THE NEED FOR AN OUTLIER COACH
Thirteenth in the series of alternative learning from Krav Maga.
Some people hated me. As a growth CEO, I am okay with that. I am LEO. A maverick, a rebel, an outlier, that is how I would describe myself. Folks call me crazy. I wear it like a badge, with pride. I am invited to do things Nobody believes in.
I am brought in wherever rapid change is required. I am a surgeon CEO, attacking the cause rather than the symptoms. A specialist surgeon in corporate restructure or growth. When things have hit a plateau and need a shakeup, when a new division or initiative needs a rapid scale, I am your man. No, I am not ashamed to state it. I believe in myself. I deliver!
I was brought in to ACCx to take the company to the next level. A Software services firm that was at the cusp of transformation into a SaaS company. As with companies that have been around for years, this was a big ship that needed to turn fast. This “turning”, “scaling” expertise was not available within. I had proven himself a few times in other firms, with expected excellent results and the ethical way I worked. A rare balance in the corporate world, even if I toot my horn myself.
Wherever I went, I remained unabashedly ME. I shoved the envelope off the table and created a stir in laid-down, staid systems. Because it had to be done and not to serve my vanity. In ACCx, I started with a few measures.
- I rejected the office vehicle and opted for a bicycle instead!
- I setup up a strict work schedule. I worked when I worked and did not clock more than 8 hours a day. I expected the rank and file to focus on productivity, not the number of hours put in.
- I refused to take late-night calls, effectively forcing the next in line to make decisions.
- All needless perks stopped, shelved, jettisoned. Those used to these perks were pissed off!
- After a complete financial analysis, I said no to some clients who did not contribute to the top or bottom-line. I also threw out certain loss-making services.
Change has to happen, not just spoken about.
All my moves were perceived to be anathema by the old guard. Those thrown off a perch or not comfortable with the change escalated it to the board. Some members of the board, as always, tried to control or rein me in. I answered all their queries respectfully but stayed true to who I am.
I complied, but at the very edge of compliance. I was doing just about enough to keep the cries to a whimper.
One such move was to force me to take on a coach. The request was that as straightforward as it was ambiguous, figure this oxymoron!
“You need to take on a coach!” was the missive.
So I did.
I took on a coach. I checked that box! I did not take on a CEO coach or a performance or lifestyle coach.
I took on a Parkour coach.
Parkour is a physical activity (sport?). A practice of traversing hurdles, known and unknown. Parkour involves running, jumping, rolling, slipping-through to travel from one point to another: fast in the most efficient way possible. This had to be done without the use of any equipment and of course, without injuring yourself! The very sight of Parkour is beautiful for some and stomach-churning for others. I loved the adrenaline rush, and this became my way to commute to work on some days. It did help that my office has a shower. I know you are thinking about a sweaty, stinky CEO in a boardroom.
“Why did you take on a Parkour coach? Why are you wasting company money?”.
This question had to come but aren’t we all about forecasting and anticipating — and being ready.
So, I asked back. “Which way is the company headed? Are you happy with the growth markers? What is your take on the macro-economic scenarios? Have you heard about Chaos theory, how the flutter of a butterfly in Brazil will cause typhoons in another part of the world?”
“Isn’t that YOUR job to provide answers?”, came the question to my questions!
(At some stage in career, some choose to stop any further growth and take on the permanent designation of “The Pesky Questioner”. The Pesky Questioner will not provide answers, not do anything towards a solution. They will only ask pesky questions that do NOT add to the objective we are working on. They just want to bask in the 30 seconds of fame and, of course, document and minute that they asked the question. We have to deal with this kind. When you pray for rain, you’ve got to deal with the mud too. A dialogue from a movie. Of course, this is what I am thinking to myself as I respond to the query.)
“I have a Parkour coach!. I know you will be surprised. What is Parkour? It is traversing hurdles, known and unknown. You need to move and keep moving. How to anticipate obstacles and proceed to cross that? All decisions need to be taken in split seconds. Any hesitation means a fall and injury. So, in a fraction of a second, your mind needs to decide what to do, and your body has to follow. “
We know what we need to do and why. A strategy is deciding to go from point A to point B within a stipulated time to achieve the set goal.
I need to take ACCx from where we are to a 5x growth in the next 24 months. I will face hurdles inside and outside, but the strategic goal is clear. Where we are, though, we have a lot of variables. There are aspects we are yet unclear about. Yet we need to plan and act on them as they come. In Parkour and business, all planned tactics go for a toss as the obstacles are not constant. You can prepare for steps and statues, not the people or vehicles or moving dangers that come your way. Or you go their way.
We need to get to ACCx’s point B, as fast and as efficient as possible. With minimal damage to people, resources, or our brand! It is about effective and rapid decision making, a much-needed skill for a CEO. Especially a CEO with a stiff target at hand and the will to get it done.
What’s the role of a business coach? To help me find my blind spots, obstacles, and effective decision making. Knowing that every decision has consequences. Each eventuality has to be measured before the action — but to take action. To keep moving in the direction that the company or I need to go.
I needed somebody to show me moves that are considered offbeat, dangerous sometimes. The need to stay on the edge of myself to take ACC to that inflection point which will catapult us to further growth. Now, you tell me, why not a Parkour coach? When we are doing something daring, we need to go the whole way!
As Arun Jain said in his design thinking workshop:
The last 2% is equal to 200%.
Now, tell me, do you have any further concerns about me and my coach? Shall we move on to the business decisions at hand?
Nobody warns before making the move.
You need to be aware and always be scanning the environment.
A Krav Maga lesson.
You have to anticipate the dangers, the moves — and be ready with your counter! You have to avoid going solo into dark pathways and tunnels. If unavoidable, you need to assume there is going to be some danger.
Be ready for it.
Not a dire message but a practical one!
Who is your Outlier coach?
— — — —
This is the thirteenth in the series of learning from Krav Maga.
- A fully extended arm is useless
- Find the weak spot
- Violence: Avoid it as much as possible!
- You many not have started the fight, BUT
- The meditating monk
- The only mindset that counts
- Action Reaction
- When DONE is DONE! Is it ever?
- Which shoe to buy? I have several!
- Can you escape career quicksand?
- Anger Anger
- Show as little as possible
Pravin Shekar is an outlier marketer, parallel entrepreneur and a raconteur.
mic @ PravinShekar.com .
For creative collusions, join: http://bit.ly/JoinMyOutlierTribe
Pravin is the author of seven books: Devil Does Care, Marketing lessons from Mythology, Getting paid to speak, a Virtual Summit Playbook, Climb your way out of hell & a collection of travel pics/romantic poems, and stories from the heart!
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