My insights on what is important to ignite genius within:
I was doing well in physics but it was no longer meaningful area for me
to work in as I did not have passion to continue. I thought it is the area of computers
that I am interested in and joined Apple but I realized that it is about working with
people that I can sustain my passion. Once I came to Apple University and had the
difficulties in fitting in and working with soft skills and emotional intelligence.
In some respects, working in the Apple University was the hardest job in the beginning
because I was fish out of water. But my colleagues like Ian Browde, Lucille Ueltzen and
my manager Stefan Winsnes helped me to see the world from a different set of lenses. Then
while working with Bill Atkinson, I could clearly see the process of creation and
innovation and how it is connected with passion, meaning and purpose. All the interviews
with extra ordinary people around the world while researching for what creates a
breakthrough in learning had a profound effect on me and I was no longer interested in
staying in my comfort zone. That is what ignited my connection to genius.
I quit Apple in Feb. 1990 because it was clear that innovation and breakthrough learning take place in "soft" domains like Leadership than in hard sciences (like Physics) or hard business skills (like managing resources). When I started working with companies doing executive development programs or design of leadership development, I realized that knowledge exchange is easy but it does not ignite the genius because it has no connection to the heart and spirit of the person. Many schools teach in a way that students go away with lot of knowledge at the end of their program. If an executive needs an update in the area of general management or gain knowledge in strategy or analytics, he should go to one of the executive development courses in a reputable school for a few days/months.
On the other hand, skills come when you apply the knowledge in a real context. Schools use case studies and simulations to an extent but we dont take them seriously. While both knowledge and skills are necessary for one to be successful and grow in their job, the ability to translate one from the other is unique and different for each individual and the genius gets ignited during that process of integration and application. When they integrate their skills and knowledge with their own feel of the job and feel confident about themselves, they become competent workers, domain experts and managers. Many companies focus on leadership competencies and do the gap analysis through 360 reviews and help people to develop required competencies to make them and organizations successful. Still, competency development without the person grounding oneself in ethical values and character development does result in sustainable shift in behavior and capacity building.
On reflection, capacity and capability are critical elements of igniting the genius within. It is different from potential as we know in human potential. Capacity shows up in action and it is not a reservoir of potential to be tapped into. Capacity is unlocked when mindsets are changed or when people make discontinuous leaps in other words when cognitive reframing takes place. This process is not dependent on the instructor or coach or facilitator but it is on the individual. Why? Because it is about the individual discovering ones own natural genius based on the environment, mirroring and the provocation provided by others. This is the source of passion, sustainable change, innovation and leadership.
When I put all the elements together igniting the genius within is the process of tapping into human capacity and unleashing the passion, clarify the purpose and create meaning in their work and life. In other words it is aligning their head (creativity), heart (source of change) and hands (domain of action) with their spirit (purpose) and the world around them (connection). Once the genius is ignited, then we can direct it towards our noble aspiration (North Star), make course corrections during the journey, reach our destination safely and learn to get back to our source carefully once the job is done.
This process of assisting people and companies to ignite their genius is still something that brings energy and excitement in me.
Five years ago, my journey took another turn. I started doing more and more executive education programs for Indian School of Business, Hyderabad and I was asked to set up a center for leadership and change management. As we explored what the center should have, it became clear that we have to focus on integral approach and wisdom traditions because of the context that we live in. The ambiguity, diversity, speed, complexity and need for interdependence that define the world outside meant we have to find ways to develop global leaders who can find
meaning and purpose from spiritual and wisdom traditions;
models, tools and frameworks from scientific and technological world that we live in; and
measures and outcomes defined by the business world and management practices that we operate out of.
In the intersection of management practices, scientific principles and wisdom perspectives we can ignite the leadership genius within. It also became clear that global leaders need to focus on self awareness, self control, character, innovation, results and change management skills to be success and those became foundation blocks for the Center for Leadership, Innovation and Change (CLIC) that I created in ISB. Most of the work that I have done for past 20 years is now being transferred to CLIC and we are having a team of researchers who are working with organizations around the world in the area of igniting the genius within. We are also focusing on translating wisdom perspectives into principles and practices that leaders around the world can apply. I spend half my time with the CLIC in India and the other half, I still live in the Silicon Valley.
How to engage with me:
Send me some questions that are important to you in your work and life. I will try to answer them through a Q & A blog or personal responses. You can attend Practical Vedanta sessions if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday evenings from 7:30-9:30 (if I am also in town). Send me an email to RSVP and we will let you know where the session is that week.
If you are interested in Wisdom research aspects or academic pursuits, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me in india at +91 900 048 4854.