Self-realisation is the
beginning of soul searching and the best tool to gain competitive excellence!
- K Shankar -
competition and pressure all around, what does it take to succeed today;
may it be an individual, industry or nation? How can Indians and Indian
organisations build a sustainable competitive edge and gain competitive
excellence and leadership in the globalised world? Attitude, Behaviour,
Competence, Drive, Excellenc.....the A to Z list goes on and on and gets
back to its loop to repeat, until words are not available.
When we plan for a long
journey we immediately start setting our home and ourselves in order. Arrange
things, leave instructions, tell neighbors to take care, plan and prepare
our luggage according to our needs and wants and so on. If all these preparations
are required for a temporary journey, what preparations should we do for
our life journey, which is an eternal journey until we rest forever?
Any journey begins at
home. Likewise any advancement/growth of an individual starts with himself
or herself. What most people forget to do is to depart for the life journey,
without preparing the home ground i.e knowing themselves.
The first deadly skill
among the skills for attaining competitive excellence, in all that we do,
is the skill involved in really getting to know yourself. Even the oldest
admonition is “Man, know thyself”. It may look simple but is the toughest
task. Self-realisation is the beginning of soul searching and the best
tool to work with to gain competitive excellence.
Self-analysis and Self-realisation
Self-analysis leads to
self-realisation and self-realisation leads to self-development. Besides
if one can understand himself or herself thoroughly, they can easily empathise
others thereby reducing the chances for conflicts. Self-analysis is the
process of analysing one’s strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, opportunities
and threats and positioning oneself appropriately to attain competitive
excellence in the chosen field of profession. A clear understanding of
strengths and weaknesses is the first step towards gaining competitive
One may wonder as to which
is the appropriate age or stage during which one should start this exercise
of trying to know oneself. This is an ongoing exercise at every stage in
our life and there is no end to this. It is a progressive exercise that
is life-long. The beginning of this exercise shall entirely depend on the
individual’s ability to think and act accordingly. It may vary from person
to person depending on the environment in which they grow, the counseling
they get in different forms through the people around them, but ideally
one can start this exercise consciously, around the time, while completing
the secondary education.
At school level it may
appear too pre-matured but it is imperative at this stage to think about
the future considering one’s strengths and weaknesses. One can take parents’
or teachers’ or student counselors’ help to do this exercise. Unfortunately
the students seldom do this kind of exercise and rarely get the opportunity
to realise the significance of this exercise, which pushes them to an undesirable
path, ignoring their own strengths and weaknesses. This is the starting
point for all problems that may occur further in their life. This kind
of formal counselling is still in its infancy stage in our country and
has a high potential as our nation is progressing to become a developed
Identify strengths and
Sometimes the likes of
an individual is different from his or her strength/competence in a particular
area. For instance one may like to become a Doctor because his Doctor uncle
is successful, but the individual may be a good drawing artiste. Such strength
must be identified and the individual must move further in the direction
of his or her strength to become more strong and competitive to make a
successful career out of that rather than pursuing a medicene career.
skills like graphic design may add value to basic strengths. Weaknesses
must also be identified and efforts must be made to overcome the same if
they are major weaknesses. For instance if Communication of that individual
is poor it may affect that individual to climb the ladder further.
Counselling at the right
age and the right stage such as this instance as pointed above, could lead
a person to the right destination in his or her life. Competence and strength
might have developed right from their infancy stage as a natural art, but
breaking that artificially to switch over to parents’ likes or peer pressure
shall only lead to half-hearted progress in the chosen field.
The above-mentioned instance
is just a case of trying to know oneself during the student days. Even
after getting into some profession, everyone must conduct a personal audit
on themselves on what their ambitions are, what they are good at, what
they are strong and competent at and whether their likes and strengths
are matching and which way they should go etc. Even housewives seeking
some part-time career can conduct this kind of audit to venture into the
right kind of business that would suit them.
Self-audit can be done
in the following areas
Competence building n Addl.
Family n Money
Materialistic goals n Society
Health n Spirituality
The process of Self-realisation,
self-analysis et al, begins with thinking. Hence children must be given
opportunities to think and do things. Unfortunately our education system
and curriculum have limitations on this. Creative thinking must become
a part of school and college curriculum and simple workshops must be conducted
on this to motivate and drive the students.
Well, what's creative
A low-income family
devises a plan to send their son to a leading university. That’s creative
A family turns the
street’s most undesirable lot into the neighborhood beauty spot. That’s
A factory worker
conceives a new working method that increases his productivity. That’s
Creative thinking is simply
finding new, improved ways to do anything.
Once the thinking process
starts, one must learn to make his or her, own judgement based on critical
thinking (Analytical thinking) considering the pros and cons involved in
every issue that confronts them. Both Objective and Subjective judgement
skills can be learnt in this process.
Also this will enable the
young minds to study themselves and understand their own potential considering
their strengths and weaknesses. Simple morals and cases can be used to
stimulate thinking. The magnitude of one’s achievement is based on the
size of his or her thinking. If we think big our achievement will also
be big and vice versa. The economic reforms process being carried out in
India since 1991, is a clear case of Government thinking and mind-set change.
In life everything begins
with thinking. There can’t be a better thinking, on the importance of thinking
than this. What our mind can conceive and believe, it can also achieve.
In the organisation context,
those who realised their strengths and weaknesses are already arms up for
facing the global competition. For example, in Chennai, Sundram Fasteners
has global acceptance for product quality. Jet Airways has won international
acclaim for in flight service. NDTV has established itself as a world-class
news and current affairs organisation. IIM Ahmedabad is rated as the best
management institution in Asia. Indian Institutes of Technology have left
an indelible imprint on technical education. There are good examples but
numbers are not sufficient for a large economy. Yet it is better late than
never to put in more efforts.
Leadership to foster
Getting back to the beginning,
on gaining competitive edge and catching up with the world for attaining
competitive excellence and leadership, let’s first understand ourselves
thoroughly as individuals, as industries, as an economy.
This can happen only in
an environment where creative thinking is encouraged and to do this we
need competent and inspiring leadership in all walks of life. We need leadership
that can foster creative thinking, ideas and motivate the cadres to realise
their full potential.
This is missing today because
of the absence of an environment that builds leaders. There is too much
of negativism in our attitude. There is more regulation than freedom. More
suppression than autonomy, and more suspicion than trust. This is happening
even in organisations where the top management is highly qualified. The
challenge for all of us is to create an environment where such leadership
can flourish in every area. The process must start with a commitment by
each one of us to provide efficient stewardship in the fields where there
is a trace of core competence, to ensure global competitiveness and leadership.
Know thyself and you can take on the world.
The author is a Management
and HRD Consultant.
Courtesy: Deccan Herald