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Monday, March 18, 2013

Learn to respond ( not react)

"The time to build a network is always before you need one. It took me an extra six months to find a job because i had to build a network from scratch before i could really ramp up my search for a  job"

This is what Douglas Conant said, when he lost his job. And remember, he lost his job, after 10-15 year of experience. This is what i always hear when i meet coachees. They always 'wake up' when the problem has arrived. The right time to wake up, as Douglas Conant, says is 'before you need to wake up'. The bigger question is 'how'?.

When you are taking action after the event, you are reacting. When you are taking action, much before the event falls on your lap, you are responding. As you will realise, responding is a main key to succeed in life. Reacting is always catching up with the past, Responding is being ahead with the future by doing something in the present. Reacting is spending efforts on fire-fighting, Responding is spending efforts on preventing the fire.

Here are some ideas to learn to respond:
  • Learn to find 'answer' to questions before they appear in the horizon: As we discussed in this blog, we tend to avoid questions that are irritating, difficult to deal with. We tend to avoid questions such as "What is the next challenge of  getting the job after doing graduation?" Or "what is the challenge in succeeding in the first job" etc.
  • Learn to find people who can help you answer these questions or even help you identify the questions: Generally these are your professors, or an Uncle who is willing to talk about his experience, or a friend of a father who has written a book, or a friend's relative who is a HR Manager of a company which hires graduates. 
  • Learn to frame questions with specific context : Without framing a right question, you will not get the right answer. Do not ask 'What are challenges of getting a job". Instead, make it as specific as " I am passing out from a XXX MBA institute, which is not the premium institute. What difficulties will i face?'". Or  add " I am an Engineer" before asking this question. 
  • Learn to frame questions differently with different individuals: If you are asking a question to a Coach who hardly knows you, ask a general question of " I am passing from xxx Institute as Engineer. What are the challenges for such graduates?" People who have wide experience and background, tend to give answers which are too 'generic'. You have to apply them to your situation. On the other hand, if you are asking this same question to HR manager, ask him " I am a graduate MBA. What jobs can i get in Nashik?"
Framing a question appropriately, depending on the background of a person, is an important key in getting appropriate answer to a difficult question. More than often, i find graduates lack this key skill. They therefore fail to get the right answer because they make these two mistakes : they either ask a wrong question to the right person, or ask the right question to a wrong person. And when they fail to get the desired response from the person, they lose motivation. They stop asking questions because they are embarassed at their repeated failures. And soon they start reacting. 

Have you learnt to frame the questions to elicit the desired response? If you have not , you are at the mercy of life. If you have, you have one more tool to deal actively with life.

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