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ACHIEVING GROWTH FROM FAILURE

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If failure is viewed as an opportunity to learn lessons and make advances, it will result in positive outcomes. Individuals are evolutionarily hardwired to fear failure. The biological circuitry humans have developed results in the magnification of negative information and experience to the detriment of positive information and experience. Van Rooy advocates a type of learned optimism, where concerted thought and effort is put into pulling out the bright points of failure and working them into the fabric of a career trajectory.img_1500-e1563419831257.jpg

Not all failures are created equal. Failure can be broken down into three categories:

  1. Preventable failures are one-dimensional. The only lesson to be learned is to avoid making the same mistake in the future.
  2. Failures driven by complexity can result in important lessons learned.
  3. Intelligent failures at the edges of human knowledge can create learned lessons with wide-ranging impact.

While the self-examination that inevitably follows personal and professional mistakes can be painful and humiliating, individuals can emerge from such reflections with greater insights into their limitations and greater knowledge on how to hone their efforts and learn from their missteps. Professionals should ask themselves questions after every failure to understand the situation and make needed corrections.

Failure is not inevitable, and a tendency to see it as inevitable reduces necessary risk taking and puts a cap on courage. Failure should be accepted, dealt with, and learned from. Failure is not permanent, but is simply a helpful transitory stage to the next accomplishment on a career trajectory. Failure should be put in its proper place.

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THINK BIG, ACT SMALL, MOVE QUICK

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page20prismBuilding and managing a trajectory involves breaking down professional goals into manageable steps. Everyone is familiar with the experience of dreaming big, but many people get lost in the execution. Setting goals is the first step in achieving a goal-oriented career trajectory. Difficult but attainable goals consistently result in the greatest success, but there is a tension between the hard and the impossible. If goals are too difficult, motivation is lost and individuals are discouraged from making future attempts. Professionals should set goals for the near future, as goals extrapolated too far out do not exert much influence.

Goals are best achieved through small, incremental progress. Patience can be a tricky subject to master, but it is well worth the effort. Most goals are not achieved in a rush of energy; they are reached over time as individuals put in day-to-day effort. Specifying intermediary milestones is a good way to measure progress. Professional choices are best made after careful consideration rather than through knee-jerk reactions to every new development. Incorporating the principle of delayed gratification into one’s goals will result in increased willpower and avoidance of an instant-reaction feedback loop.

While progress is best achieved in small increments after thoughtful exploration, that does not mean individuals should paralyze themselves by considering all options and refusing to move forward. Individuals must identify the right opportunities and seize them at the right time. While the decisiveness and responsibility this entails may seem overwhelming, a carefully mapped trajectory can provide the information needed to make good choices in a timely manner. As individuals think big, act small, and move quick, their confidence and ability will increase.

PERSISTENCE AS A DIFFERENTIATOR

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Talent does not automatically equate to success. The key ingredient in crafting a beneficial career trajectory is persistence. Persistence separates the great from the mediocre. Persistent individuals translate motivation and tenacity into personal effort. How a person internalizes motivation and where that motivation comes from are crucial in determining persistence. Extrinsic motivation has a short shelf life. Persistence is best achieved via intrinsic motivation, or those internal factors that make up individual passions and give sustainable drive to outward actions.

Success is maximized when aided by passion and enthusiasm. However, overenthusiasm can impair performance just as easily as a lack of enthusiasm. People should seek a balanced enthusiasm, which will help them achieve their goals in a measured, sustainable manner.

When achieved, persistence can be a differentiating factor in work and life. In professional workspaces, there is often a range restriction imposed by the hiring process that ensures employees are somewhat similar in talents and qualities. When one-half of the success equation is shared by everyone else in the office, it can be hard to stand out. Persistence has consistently proven to be a primary differentiating quality in work environments, and it is a primary ingredient in any successful career trajectory.

POWER OF FEEDBACK

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Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 7.40.05 pmThe importance of feedback as a tool for personal change and professional development cannot be overstated. Deep feedback involves seeking out substantive, often critical advice on performance, attributes, and style. Asking for this type of feedback can be a distressing experience, especially in a culture conditioned to preserve self-esteem at all costs. The value of deep feedback, though, outweighs the possible unpleasantness of incurring a hit to one’s ego.

A common mistake made by employees in the modern workplace is simply neglecting to ask for deep feedback in the first place. It is easy to avoid the harsh light of honest feedback by never seeking it out, but this strategy leads to complacency and professional mediocrity. People tend to overestimate the quality of their own performance, so avoiding deep feedback can leave them in an echo chamber of their own making, blissfully unaware of the way their work is perceived by those around them. Overcoming personal resistance to deep feedback is a key aspect of improvement and advancement.

The mere provision of feedback, even honest feedback, does not end the inquiry. How a person responds to feedback dictates how much it will be internalized. People can choose to either personalize the feedback and react destructively, or they can depersonalize the advice and not see it as an attack on their entire identity. No matter how eager a person is for feedback, a destructive reaction will make others unwilling to provide more feedback in the future.

People should view feedback as a compass, or something that will keep them on the straight and narrow. Carving out time to ask for feedback, internalizing it properly, taking advantage of mentorship opportunities, and being attuned to unconscious feedback from others’ actions and body language can allow individuals to capitalize on input and transform their career trajectories.

SUSTAINING OUTLIER PERFORMANCE

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Constructing a workable, tenacious career trajectory will result in sustained success over time. Individuals who put the effort, wisdom, and willpower into planning their professional futures will become positive outliers, or people who distinguish themselves from the crowd. Becoming a positive outlier requires an avoidance of rigidity and a constant eye to the changing future. Individuals operating at full capacity may not be the best or brightest in the room, but they will achieve sustained success based on their proven track records of excellent work.

Everyone ultimately controls his or her own success. Achieving full potential requires harnessing the power of self-esteem and positive thinking. Professionals should consistently and willfully visualize positive outcomes. Every significant challenge that comes down the professional pipe can be thought through and dealt with in advance, as positive outcomes are willed into existence and alternative or worst-case scenarios are dreamed up and dealt with. Individuals who put in the prep work of thoroughly visualizing challenges will be in a great position to respond to every possible factor thrown their way.

Visualization must be accompanied by self-efficacy, or a real belief in the inevitability of one’s success. High levels of self-efficacy generate a positive feedback loop, resulting in a higher sense of self-confidence and a greater likelihood of positive results. Self-efficacy can result in self-fulfilling prophecies, where positive expectations create positive outcomes. Positive expectations, when properly and realistically maintained, can result in a cycle of perpetual success where excellent results are visualized, worked toward, and achieved. Much of the energy needed to achieve this cycle comes from having an internal rather than external locus of control. Individuals who cultivate an internal locus of control accept and take responsibility for their failures and successes, while externally-oriented people consistently look to outside circumstances.

To achieve sustained success and truly enjoy it, individuals must align efforts with passions. Success can be achieved outside the realm of personal desires, but the best career trajectories come when individuals put their efforts toward activities they truly love. By cultivating passion and applying positive lessons to career development, anyone can construct a remarkable career trajectory.

THINK BIG, ACT SMALL, MOVE QUICK

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Goal Oriented session for Leading bank by Prism Philosophy

Building and managing a trajectory involves breaking down professional goals into manageable steps. Everyone is familiar with the experience of dreaming big, but many people get lost in the execution. Setting goals is the first step in achieving a goal-oriented career trajectory. Difficult but attainable goals consistently result in the greatest success, but there is a tension between the hard and the impossible. If goals are too difficult, motivation is lost and individuals are discouraged from making future attempts. Professionals should set goals for the near future, as goals extrapolated too far out do not exert much influence.

 

Goals are best achieved through small, incremental progress. Patience can be a tricky subject to master, but it is well worth the effort. Most goals are not achieved in a rush of energy; they are reached over time as individuals put in day-to-day effort. Specifying intermediary milestones is a good way to measure progress. Professional choices are best made after careful consideration rather than through knee-jerk reactions to every new development. Incorporating the principle of delayed gratification into one’s goals will result in increased willpower and avoidance of an instant-reaction feedback loop.

While progress is best achieved in small increments after thoughtful exploration, that does not mean individuals should paralyze themselves by considering all options and refusing to move forward. Individuals must identify the right opportunities and seize them at the right time. While the decisiveness and responsibility this entails may seem overwhelming, a carefully mapped trajectory can provide the information needed to make good choices in a timely manner. As individuals think big, act small, and move quick, their confidence and ability will increase.

Power of Feedback

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The importance of feedback as a tool for personal change and professional development cannot be overstated. Deep feedback involves seeking out substantive, often critical advice on performance, attributes, and style. Asking for this type of feedback can be a distressing experience, especially in a culture conditioned to preserve self-esteem at all costs. The value of deep feedback, though, outweighs the possible unpleasantness of incurring a hit to one’s ego.

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Feedback session for the leading premier institute students of India 

 

A common mistake made by employees in the modern workplace is simply neglecting to ask for deep feedback in the first place. It is easy to avoid the harsh light of honest feedback by never seeking it out, but this strategy leads to complacency and professional mediocrity. People tend to overestimate the quality of their own performance, so avoiding deep feedback can leave them in an echo chamber of their own making, blissfully unaware of the way their work is perceived by those around them. Overcoming personal resistance to deep feedback is a key aspect of improvement and advancement.

The mere provision of feedback, even honest feedback, does not end the inquiry. How a person responds to feedback dictates how much it will be internalized. People can choose to either personalize the feedback and react destructively, or they can depersonalize the advice and not see it as an attack on their entire identity. No matter how eager a person is for feedback, a destructive reaction will make others unwilling to provide more feedback in the future.

People should view feedback as a compass, or something that will keep them on the straight and narrow. Carving out time to ask for feedback, internalizing it properly, taking advantage of mentorship opportunities, and being attuned to unconscious feedback from others’ actions and body language can allow individuals to capitalize on input and transform their career trajectories.

WHAT CONSTITUTES GOOD STORYTELLING?

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Before continuing to develop their leadership stories, leaders should understand what makes a good story. Leaders must know the messages they want to communicate, know the audience to which they want to communicate it, and enlist others to also tell the stories. Authenticity makes leaders’ stories more memorable. Ultimately, no matter what story is told or how it is told, the actions of the leaders will speak the loudest.

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Story telling session with leading consulting firm 

Most well-formed stories have a beginning, middle, and end–or a narrative arc. The narrative arc in the story includes action that rises until a big climax, or turning point, and then descends. A leader’s story should build up to a high point in his or her career when everything has come together.

To develop their stories, leaders should determine their leadership purpose and goals, and how they will reach them. Leaders can define their narrative arcs by mapping a time line containing the major milestones of their leadership journeys. Also, they can identify the events and people–whether from early in their lives or sometime in their business careers–that impacted what they value and how they think as leaders. Not everything that leaders remember about their journeys will be positive or affirming; some events and people might have had a negative influence. The purpose of charting their narrative arcs is for leaders to gain a deeper understanding of themselves and what has shaped their leadership.

It is not sufficient to simply have a good leadership story–it must be communicated well, at the right time, and to the right people. Leaders must be aware of how the telling of their stories is perceived by others. Effective communication of a story includes the following:

*Proactively planning the messages to communicate.

*Finding unique opportunities to communicate the story appropriately.

*Identifying who else has a role in communicating the story.

Step 1: Knowing the Message

To be a good storyteller, a leader must know what to communicate and why. The story must be simple, clear, and motivational, without exaggeration. Depending on the situation and the audience, a leader might want to convey some aspects of the story but not others.

The most important aspect of communicating a story is framing–matching the story to the audience. Framing helps leaders illustrate ideas in a way that makes them relevant, helps others draw conclusions, and creates a common understanding. Leaders might not want to directly boast about their attributes, but by using framing, they can help their audiences reach certain conclusions about their skills, attributes, and capabilities. Framing also allows a leader to fit his or her story into the purpose and objectives of the company, or relate it to a specific outcome or purpose. Also, the message of the story can be framed with a tale that brings the story to life.

Step 2: Knowing the Audience

A leadership story lives in the hearts and minds of others. Therefore, a story must be relevant to the audience. Leaders should be aware of how their stories support the stories of others and the stories of their organizations.

Audiences include direct reports, supervisors, peers, and important clients. Each audience, however, has different needs and might interpret the leaders’ stories differently. Although a leader can easily identify who his or her audience is, the challenge is to know how members of a specific audience already perceive the leader, what information will be important to them, and how the audience will make sense of what they are hearing.

Effectively communicating a story starts with being empathetic and establishing relevance for the audience. The choice of medium used to communicate the message is important, too. Leaders should not rely on one-way communication technology, especially if the message could evoke an emotional response.

Step 3: Maximizing Moments of Truth

There are times in a leadership story when something was gained or lost–known as moments of truth. These moments offer opportunities for leaders to share or reinforce their stories. A moment of truth can be thought of as a great awakening or a revelation that made an important change in the life of the leader. Such moments make the stories more memorable.

A leader can plan for those moments of truth when it would be appropriate to share all or part of the leadership story. A leader should also be prepared to communicate his or her story during chance encounters and unplanned events. In either case, these moments allow leaders to clarify, inspire, and enlist other protagonists in their stories.

Step 4: Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Leaders are “on stage” all the time, so their choices of words, actions, and nonverbal cues to communicate their stories also communicate something about themselves. To be perceived as authentic, these three elements must align. Therefore, leaders must have a strong self-awareness of what they believe and value, and ensure their words and actions reflect that awareness.

Step 5: Enlisting Others to Tell the Leadership Story

Some leaders are wary of telling their stories, believing that it comes across as self-promotion. This cautiousness is justified. Leaders should be careful about what they say about themselves in comparison with what others say about them. A leader’s story is best communicated through the words of others; therefore, a challenge for leaders is to find others who will sing their praises. Those who are recruited can act as credibility substitutes. Their credibility rubs off on the leaders whose stories they are telling. Leaders should foster sound relationships with several people who can act as their credibility substitutes. The effort takes time and commitment; reaching out to the protagonists they identified earlier can be a good start.

Wrap Up -Negotiation

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Once a successful agreement has been negotiated, there are a few final steps to take before considering the negotiation complete:

*Document the terms. Professionals must record where they ended so both parties have a shared understanding of the specifics. Both parties should review and agree to the document, and each party should retain a copy.

*Communicate to make sure there is an agreement. Everyone with decision rights should be consulted and the documentation and recommendations shared.

*Think through the implementation. Professionals should think about what steps will ensure a smooth transition from agreement to implementation.

*Put the agreement into action. Once the agreement is final, anyone involved should be briefed about the implementation, the intent behind it, what has been learned about counterparts and their interests, and any future risks.

Review What Happened

When the negotiation is finished, negotiators must take the opportunity to learn and improve their skills. They should set up a time to review the process, capture what they have learned, and get feedback. Areas to improve should be identified and everything discussed and practiced in the review should be documented.

NEGOTIATION -IN THE ROOM

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Begin the Negotiation

As the negotiation session opens, professionals should ask questions about the substance of the negotiation. Then, they should listen carefully to what their counterparts share. While listening, professionals should avoid reacting to what they hear and should simply absorb the information. In additional to listening, professionals should also set a good example by sharing information. They should share their ideas in consumable chunks and watch out for situations where people could misunderstand one another.

A working relationship should be built early in the negotiation. To keep the relationship separate from the negotiation itself, professionals must do the following:

*Deal with the relationship head-on. If any concerns were raised in preparation, professionals should diagnose them and explore possible solutions.

*Separate relationship issues from the substance of the negotiation. Any relationship issues should be identified and addressed so they do not conflict with the negotiation process itself.

*Work unconditionally to grow the relationship. Regardless of existing issues in the relationship, professionals should work to make the relationship stronger. They should set the stage for a collaborative approach from the beginning by being respectful, well prepared, and ready to listen.

Create and Refine the Options

The relationship building that begins during the negotiation helps negotiators create and refine their options. Professionals must confirm their counterparts’ interests and must also carefully share their own interests. Not all interests should be put on the table, but enough information should be shared to make a counterpart feel comfortable following suit.

Once ideas have been generated, professionals should evaluate them. Standards should be used to narrow options and support good solutions. When one party advocates an option that the other party does not believe is fair, standards should be used to support the argument against it. If counterparts bring conflicting standards, they should discuss which data is appropriate for the situation. By applying standards and iterating and refining the options, professionals will arrive at a few workable solutions.

Select the Right Outcome

When a few solutions are left on the table, professionals must move toward a final agreement. They should evaluate the remaining solutions against the best alternative identified in the preparation.

Professionals should assess their strong options against the following three criteria to narrow them down further:

1. It is operational and sufficient. Professionals should make sure that the timeline, terms, and conditions in the given option are realistic and detailed enough to be implemented.

2. There is authority to commit to it. Professionals should not make agreements they are not allowed to make.

3. It can be sold internally to key stakeholders. Professionals should test the solution with the right people before they make any commitments, keeping in mind that those people may have concerns or ideas that have not been considered.

With the solutions evaluated, many professionals may feel confident that they are getting close to finalizing the negotiation, but some negotiators will find things taking a turn for the worse. In those situations, they must adapt their approach.

Adapt the Approach

Many negotiators are frustrated by the fact that they cannot control what the other party does. In these cases, it is important for professionals to be flexible. The following are ways to stay flexible:

*Role play. When professionals find themselves in the middle of a negotiation and they are not sure which direction to go, they can practice with someone else before going back into the negotiation room.

*Become a fly on the wall. Throughout the negotiation, a professional can step out of the action to look at what is happening. Stepping out is helpful because it allows a professional to avoid getting stuck in a narrow view of the situation.

*Take an occasional break. If negotiators are not sure what to do next, are frustrated and need to calm down, or need to consult with colleagues, they should ask for a break.

*Conduct frequent reviews and make midcourse corrections. A smart negotiator can take a more complete step back at certain points to review what is happening in the negotiation. At each step back, negotiators should ask themselves what is working and what could be done differently.