What does Steven Spielberg has to teach us about Interning?
Steven Spielberg was a movie fanatic who was desperate for a job in the film industry. One day he landed at the Universal Studios , looking for a job. No one had one for him. So he just hung around. He showed up day after a day even though no one wanted him there. But he hung around and volunteered to do anything that was required to be done.
By doing unpaid jobs at the studio he got to watch movies being shot. He learnt by watching and interacting with folks in the industry.
Stephen Covey & Jennifer Colosimo in their book – : Great Work Great Career” say that for a person to have a great career he/she must live up to two standards. The first being that he/she must have made a distinctive contribution to the field of his work, and the other, that he/she must generate a strong feeling of loyalty/trust in others.
Going by this standard – A couple of my teachers back in school come to mind. They made an immense contribution to the lives of students like me and we trusted them completely to guide us in the right direction.
The interesting thing was that they were regular teachers teaching regular classes. They did not make much money and they were not very powerful outside of the limits of academics. But they guided the trajectory of my career and the careers of many other students. For this I am deeply indebted to them. Many of us students speak of them in a reverential manner.
I guess the next logical question to ask would be were they successful?
I am not sure.
As i said earlier – they were not wealthy and not very famous.
Does it mean that you can have a great career but not be successful or, put another way, you might be successful but yet have not had a great career.
Off-course this is just one example and we cannot generalize.
What do you think? Great career and Success – congruent ? or divergent ?
On 26th January 2014 history was made. Offcourse India celebrated its 65th year of becoming a Republic. But the history I am referring to was made at the Rod Laver Arena – when an “also-ran” –defeated a giant of Tennis. Yes folks I am talking of the Final Match of the Australian Open 2014 – when Stanislas Wawrinka – Defeated Rafael Nadal the reigning world number 1 and 13 time grand slam winner.
Stanislas Wawrinka – The highest he had reached prior to this game was the Semi Finals of a US Open. No doubt Stan was a Good player – he has an Olympic gold to his credit. But when he was pitted against the top four of Tennis – he pulled a blank.39-1 was his record against the Top four of Tennis.
Going into this match the odds were stacked against him. He had played 12 matches against Nadal and Lost all. Leave alone winning a match – he had never won a set.
It was going to be a classic David versus Goliath and everyone had written off Wawrinka. Some papers called him a pushover. Stan himself had a very simple game plan – it was to Fail Better.
Can anyone blame him for that.
Come to think of it – is there a better way to look at things?
When you have played and lost so many times – your self belief hangs by a thread – the demons of self doubt rule the roost – lets be realistic – winning or even expecting to win becomes secondary – playing matters and it matters that one Fails Better.
Should’nt we take the same approach?
When it comes to the playing fields of our profession … of our careers. We have reached a certain station. We have worked towards it faced struggles overcome them and won laurels for ourselves.
But the question begs asking – given the resources we set out with – have we become the best that we could have been. Have we tested the limits of our capability.
I am afraid the answer is “No”. I am afraid after falling a few times we have settled for what has come our way. Some us have never even tasted failure. We are Not willing to test ourselves further. Fearing failure.
We have become satisfied with our achievements. We have Plateaued.
No doubt the plateau is a high place – but the peak Beckons.
Question is are we willing to have a go at the peak. Are we willing to test the peak of our capabilities.
This journey to the peak is littered with failures and bruised egos. Are we willing to face the challenges that this journey to the peak will throw up.
Edmund Hillary when he was asked how he felt after having conquered the Mount Everest. Replied
I did not conquer the Mount Everest. I conquered myself.
So my dear folks are you willing to conquer yourself doubts and fears and realise your Peak?
Each one of us has immense potential – a lot of it lying untapped. And as you embark on the journey from the plateau to the Peak, from good to Great a journey which challenges your self belief – I am sure you will face many challenges-you will be pulled down by many a self doubt. And You will fail many a times. And as you pick yourself up and move on again – I suggest – you recall this man – Stan Wawringka –the Giant Slayer and this quote which is tattooed in his left arm –
“He who cannot be a good follower cannot be a good leader.”
The best examples of Leadership are found in the Armed forces.Leading soldiers into battle requires a strong, trustworthy and dependable leader. No doubt armed forces present us with exceptional examples of leadership under the most extreme circumstances. A key practice amongst all combat forces is the training aspect in which the obedience of the subordinate to his superior is established as paramount. The Junior officer learns to comply to his chiefs decision without any reservation.
In work life too, the very same concepts apply. To be able to Lead one has to be able to follow and follow well. At times the follower may not have the complete picture and believe the leaders decision to be wrong. He may not understand the logic behind the decision – yet if he is patient, in time he might be able to understand the logic.
Leadership starts with good followership. Men who become leaders too soon – too early end up becoming tyrants – history is replete with many such examples.
To be a good follower here are some ways –
It starts with the decision – the decision to follow. Good followers decide on the Leader they want to follow and then totally embrace that decision. They completely understand what this decision entails. It might mean giving up on other competing leaders and leadership styles. At work your choice is limited to choosing the place of work. Once that is decided – the ability to choose your Boss or superior is quite restricted – almost absent. In such a situation this decision has to be taken to ensure a smooth and effective working relationship.
Obedience is a term which we don’t get to hear in the modern day management lexicon and something which is hard to accept. Perhaps that is because obedience harks back to the days of zamindars and landlords with their fiefdoms – which implied unquestioning obedience. The modern day obedience need not be that case. It is obedience nevertheless. To be a good follower – this might be a necessary criteria. Infact there should a law that someone who can’t obey orders should not be allowed to give orders. If a leader cannot display obedience – he cannot be a good role model for his followers.
When given an assignment, a leader can be sure that the job will get done. Dependability is a key trait and incredibly important. The litmus test for a follower lies in his dependability. Followers take projects across the finish line. They make things happen.
The ability to be disciplined and to be able to lead oneself can be sited as another of the key requisites of a good team member. A member who imbibes the vision and mission of his superior – is an undeniable asset to any team. They are the most sought after for their Team skills. Such a follower will align himself or herself to the Leaders goals not waiting to be Lead.
Humility as against arrogance is an essential Hall Mark for a good follower. Humility helps one to accept his/her role as a team member. Even if on any given occasion you have done something outstanding or substantial – Instead of trying to garner attention – giving it up to your Boss and let him take the credit makes for an enlightened follower – let the light shine on your Boss for a while. Your turn will come – infact your boss might be forced to return the favour.
These are but a few useful to have traits for the diligent follower. You might have some other traits in mind. Please feel free to share them in the comments or drop a mail to prakash.francis at ehirings.net.
The thing about the Royal Enfield bike as any one will tell you is that It is not a maintenance free bike. You cant just fill it, shut it and forget it. It demands your attention – at times it wont work the way you want it to.But that in no way diminishes the pride of ownership. The rider satisfaction levels of a true blue enfield owner are legendary.
What has that got to do with career choice?
I got a mail today from a candidate – a fresher from a premier engineering college. He will be soon entering the work force. He had his mind made up that he wanted to get into manufacturing operations and move in to a techno managerial role.He has done internships in an automotive firm and taken up additional courses like production planning and operations. He listed a few organisations he wanted to join and asked me for advice and help. Some of the companies in his wishlist included – HLL,ITC, Nestle
I was quite impressed by his approach at career planning and told him as such.
But, what caught my attention was his choice of Organisations.The companies he mentioned are the creme de la creme in terms of professional / managerial excellence. But someone having Technical aspirations is likely to feel out of place – because here the scope of skill based technical learning will be limited. When all the systems are setup and running smoothly – you can learn how to run it but not how the thing works.
That is what reminded me of the Royal Enfield bikes. The thing about the Enfields are that they require maintenance & demand attention. Not quite the fill and forget it Japanese types. Perhaps that is why the Enfield aficionados talk endlessly about their carburetors, spark plus and oil leaks. They know in and out about their bikes. Because if you have driven the RE even for a couple of years – you would have faced such a situation.( I might be wrong) but I hope you get where I am heading.
So if this Technical enthusiast gets into HUL – he has to keep his technical inclinations in abeyance – because though his learning on the managerial front is going to be extensive-he might not get the kind of technical exposure he can in an Automotive/Aerospace or a pure engineering organisation.
Leave a comment or drop a line to email@example.com
A behaviour or action that is acquired is called learned behaviour. For example children learn to tie their shoes by watching their parents or classmates. Eating with a spoon and fork is another behaviour that happens by watching and practice. There are many such instances which we learn by observing the environment.
Learned behaviours have played a key role in the survival and thriving of our human race. But there is a flipside. They say too much of a good thing can be dangerous and the same goes with these behavioural mechanisms.
We pick up and hold on to behaviours that have outlived their purpose. Theorists call it cultural baggage and organisations are littered with instances of systems and process which continue to be followed – without no apparent reason. The clichéd statement – it has been always done this way – is a key indicator of the existence of learned yet meaningless organisational behaviors.
Let share with you a story which brings out the stark nature of learned behaviours.
This is a story of five monkeys – who found themselves in cage – 30 ft by 30 ft square and around 15 feet in height. From the ceiling of the cage hangs a big banana bunch. And right under this juicy bunch of bananas is a folding type ladder. The kind you get in the home depot – used for doing work around the house.
So here is the scene – five monkeys, a bunch of bananas and a ladder.
What do you think the monkeys will do?
Only a matter of time one of them climbs the ladder and goes for the bunch.
Right. But here is the twist.
The moment a monkey touches the ladder – ice cold water sprays on all the monkeys.
This monkey is zapped. Its totally startled – but the bananas are juicy – he goes for another try and – again ice cold water sprays.
Monkeys don’t particularly enjoy being sprayed with cold water. Now all the monkeys are wary. They don’t allow any monkey to move towards the ladder.
After a while another monkey gives in to the temptation and tries to go for the bananas. Immediately the other monkeys pounce on it – and prevent it from touching the ladder.
Pretty soon the monkeys become smart and stop any monkey from moving towards or touching the ladder.
Now we change the setting. The cold water spray goes. One of the monkeys is removed and a new one is introduced. The new one doesn’t know the story. He comes in sees the banana and off he goes. But to his surprise and horror all the other monkeys attack him and beat him up. Things cool off and the monkey makes another attempt – same result – he gets bashed up – and he has learnt his lesson.
Which is that if he tries climbing again he is going to be assaulted.
Next we remove one more monkey and introduce a new one. The same situation repeats. Infact now even the previous new comer enjoys bashing up this poor fellow. Without knowing why. This is learned Learned behaviour at its best.
One by one all the original monkeys are replaced with new ones and all the new entrants pick up the rules very quickly. They have no idea why they are beating up the new fellow , despite none of them have ever been sprayed with cold water.
The upshot is that no monkey approaches the ladder. The bananas are safe.
Suppose if we were to ask one one of the monkeys in – monkey language offcourse – as to why they were beating up the fellows who went for the ladder ? what would they reply ?
The reply would most likely be “because that’s the way it has always been done.”
Perhaps all it needed to break this chain of events was for one of the later monkeys to ask why?.
But I guess that would be asking for too much.
We encounter learned behaviours everyday: processes, procedures, policies, best practices, design patterns, standards, etc. These are behaviors that developed as a result of a certain environmental need.
…but over time the environment changed. But the behaviour continued.
Only by challenging our old assumptions will we ever develop new ideas else it will be Status Quo.