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Inch by inch, it is a cinch

BusinessWorld logo BusinessWorld 9/11/2018
a screenshot of a cell phone: Inch by inch, it is a cinch Inch by inch, it is a cinch

YEARS AGO my daughter, who was then nine, wanted to go wall climbing. Though she’d never done this before, we thought it was a great idea to enjoy the weekend.

When we got to the venue my nine-year old quickly geared up for the 60-foot wall climb. Once geared and strapped for safety, she eagerly rubbed powder on her hands and was off in a jiffy!

Before I’d finished gearing up myself, she was already at the top, and from the top of the wall she turned around wanting to be applauded.

The fun really kicked in after she came down and was hooked up again for a second go at the wall.

This time, though, after she pulled herself up a few notches on the wall, she stayed there. Yes, just a few notches and then she just plain stayed there.

“C’mon you can do it, go, get to the top!” I yelled. “Keep your eyes on the top and just go one step at a time,” added the wall-climbing coach.

She didn’t move an inch! She screamed back saying she was happy where she was and that we should let her be. No amount of cajoling or pleading would move her. So there she stayed for the rest of our adventurous Saturday afternoon.

Fear, unfounded, had taken hold of her spirits and she would not budge an inch. Her past performance created no motivation for her and all she could do was to stay numb to all admonishments.

How many times do we find ourselves in the same circumstances? How many times do we get locked into a state of inactivity and stagnancy? I believe it is referred to as a state of homeostasis.

At the individual level this can be easily and directly related to fear and trauma. At the organizational level it is not easy to diagnose the root cause, but, yes, it is almost always a very similar cause.

Recognizing and isolating this malady requires insights and experience from the leaders of that organization. Healing such a malady can be brought about by taking into account a Neuro Linguistic Programming principle which states that, “Anything can be accomplished if the task is broken down into small enough steps.”

Any of our previous processes, accomplishments and successes when recorded and studied carefully can be replicated over time, given that all external and internal circumstances are steady and similar.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming stresses that the reason we fail or stagnate is much more related to our internal state of mind and not as much to a state of external circumstances.

Ask someone to shoot a moving toy duck, and he can and will do it once, twice, thrice but beyond a certain number his sense of personal expectations will take a plunge.

He may not get tired, the aero dynamics of the moment may not change, but the awesomeness of the thought of repeatedly succeeding at the task will sabotage his confidence and faith in his own skills. He will then sink into fear and then failure.

It is a similar dynamism that occurred inside my daughter’s mind when she made her second attempt to climb that wall, and it is the same thing that happens to us when we get awed by having overcome a few too many hurdles towards growth in business.

The idea is to thin slice and segregate our thoughts and actions, about success, in such a way that they can be objectively recorded and then duplicated upon call.

So eventually, I cooled down and had my daughter remember what she did on her first run up the wall and then just make an effort at scaling just three grip-holds at time. She took a deep breath and slowly but steadily progressed up and then to the top. This time as she turned around, the look on her was face wasn’t just a thrilled look but it also glowed with gentle wisdom.

This is the gentle wisdom that many massively successful individuals and organizations do time and again. They thin-slice their past successes, segregate the elements, analyze them objectively and then replicate them over time for sustaining successes.

“Anything can be accomplished if the task is broken down into small enough steps,” claims the school of neuro-psychology. “Inch by inch, it is a cinch,” claims the successful man and woman on the street.


Raju Mandhyan is an author, coach and speaker.

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