Location: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Sharma Leadership - A meeting with Robin Sharma

Robin Sharma is one of world's top experts on leadership, elite performance and personal growth. Further, he is the author of some of the International best sellers like The Monk who sold his Ferrari.A great motivational speaker and I can keep on continuing.Those who visit his website are sure to find good number of adjectives and nouns that tell about what he does/he can do/he did.

By some stroke of luck, I happened to meet this highly regarded person. By the way, I have not read any book of his, so all the comments in this post are all centered on my experience of witnessing a session by Robin.

It does help if when you go back home; visit your cousins who you have promised earlier to take them on a movie; and, you end up getting an invite from your uncle, to listen to a talk by a person like Robin Sharma. The talk was organised by EMT (a term which I have gotten used to of late - it stands for Event Management Team) of my uncle's company for all their employees and their families.

The talk was titled "Living Life Fully" - a talk in which we are told that Robin would talk to the employees and their families of this company about how to make their life happy (ha! this seems to be the order of the day), how to be a leader at home - an essential to being a leader at the workplace and so on...

In a sense, this was not my first encounter with such kinds of speakers, for some time back I remember our Brand Manager inviting some professionals to give us some pep talks. Surely, Robin has got his own style.

Robin was cool and yeah, he was likeable. Since he is a motivational speaker and the talk was meant to be so - there are some words that are repeatedly used to generate that special effect, sample this - Robin begins his talk saying - All of you - say this to yourself aloud - "Robin's right, We're amazing!" .

This talk started a li'l late, and to involve his audience into what he is doing - he started with what he called - Three Breaks -

I. Everybody Stand Up and Give a Massage to your immediate neighbours
II. Each of you, go around and hug whoever you like (yes! this is your chance ;))
III.Okay, now each of you start dancing, hmm... there seem to be some old people as well, why don't you all wave your hand this way (waves his hand)

Now then once the warm-up is over, then came the best of the things that he said in the evening, at least according to me.
People keep asking me if I am a Guru, I just want to tell them - I'm not a Guru; I am not any type of a Guru I am like any other person;

Now from here, he starts getting into the core of his talk - conveys to his audience that he is one among them and makes them comfortable in his presence. Tells us that he learnt a lot from his two children - (if am not wrong) Kolby and Bianca. "Children are twice more mature", says Robin. Gives us some nice anecdotes, though they sound a little cliched at times, the way they are conveyed does create the required impact.

Telling more about his experiences, he recalls his humble beginnings and tekkys ys how life is a lot of struggles along the way. One of the important things in this time is to know how to face fear. Then suddenly came this mike problem. Mike was replaced twice, yet no change in the situation upon which he said - "Not everything happens in the way you want it to" - :)

He referred to ways of overcoming fear, one of the important things in that sequence is to face the stress. Then came an interesting anecdote which I still have it in my notes:
A mother was shopping along with her baby in a perambulator at a store. The baby started crying upon which, the mother started saying - "Don't scream Jennifer, don't cry Jennifer" and repeatedly!

One of the assistants in the store said: " Madam, this may not be the way you ask your child to stop crying", upon which the mother replied: "No, I am Jennifer"

He goes on to get to the main part of his talk - wherein he says it is very necessary to gain the love of one's own family - and asserts that one can't do good unless one feels good. His talk from now on concentrated on how to have a good relation with one's own family which he says is so essential to one's productivity.

According to him, "Developing one's own children" - is a Wind of Opportunity which one needs to seize. Building the children, is a great way of self-development. He tells us that most of the people who come to him tell him - "I've got all the money that I need for my living; I've got all that I want; but Robin, my heart is broken. All my children are off to Universities and they do not recognise me today :(" - One of the most important ways of being happy is to work on being a great parent, says Robin. He reminds us that this can lead us not to lament "If youth only do, what age only could".

Robin tells us that according to a study done, three biggest regrets that people had were:
o Didn't spend enough time thinking
o We didn't take enough risks
o We weren't loving enough to our families
Robin says, we need to spend One-third of our time thinking, One-third of our time doing, One-third of our time communicating - "Think, Act, Communicate" - these are the buzz words.
Robin further reminds us that Greatest Risk taken is not taking a risk and the reasons why one fears taking a risk is the fear of failures. Now he gets back to his point on fear. He reminds everyone that Failure is a price of greatness. Failure is a great opportunity.
And while referring to the people, he tells us that he reads a lot of obituaries - and that too on purpose. Just to see if he would find this statement - he died peacefully in his sleep with all his close friends, family and relatives by his side - and if this is what one needs to attain in the end after our death - then Robin says we need to talk of full-life cycle leaders. [Till this moment, I spent my time listening carefully where he is trying to lead us to]

Robin asks us to be leaders of a culture - culture is one of the most important thing to make you're self great (oh! he seems to be venturing into our territory, was my first reaction! - shall come back to this later). He asks us to see ourselves as a leader. A leader at home. He repeats that there is a leader in each in one of us and to ignite it one should start thinking.He asserts that one does better at work if he's a leader at home and that one'll also be able to strike a balance between work and home.

How to become a leader at home? Robin's answer - Develop your children - expose them to different cultures, variety of books - he diverts his attention to spend some time on the importance of collecting books, if not reading them. He tells us that all great men, when you visit them the first thing that they would like to show you is their collection - their library! He asks his audience to build their own libraries for it is going to enrich them - you may not read them now, but at some point of your life you might want to get back to them - listening to which I just got reminded of my own experience with my father who once told me when I asked him Dad, why do you buy all these books - I haven't seen you read most of them; to which he replied - so that you would read these books if not me - so when Robin was saying, my Dad's words flashed across my memory lane. Robin tells us about what Shimon Peres told him once - I read, and read 3 times a day - and tells us that that would make one wise.

He tells us about the importance of reading books that books are those which contain ideas. And an idea can transform your life.

He asks each of us to lead by example. This he says is very much essential in developing one's own children. Taking his own example, he says this is what he tells his children every night: what he calls Four Lively Ideas

o You can do whatever it is you want to do in your life
o Never ever give up
o When you do something, however small it is, do well
o Never ever forget how much Daddy loves you

(The moment I heard these, my interest in the talk slowly started waning)
He says that his children keep complaining that Daddy, It's getting boring, but he assures that one day they'll come back to him thanking him for those words.

He then gave a nice anecdote from John F Kennedy's life.

John F Kennedy's father was a great man, a great visionary. His name was Joseph Kennedy. Every day for the evening meal, he used to invite an extra-ordinary man to share their dinner table. And this helped his children in a great way.

This is a way which one can emulate. Get some interesting people for dinner and that shall be great education for your children. It'll also enrich you. Building a world-class human being is what we are looking at. One should commit oneself to continuous learning .

He stresses the need to maintain good health yourself in order that you do well. Generally, people put their Health at the Bottom of the ladder, and this is not good for that is the most important thing for you to achieve anything. Put our health above everything, says Robin. [rmr, Robin's Right :) ]

Talking of leaders, he quotes G B Shaw:
I'd like to be the person what I could've been, but never was.

He reminds us these words "I cursed the time when I had no shoes, until I saw a man with no feet" and reminds us how blessed we all are. In order to be a leader, we need to drive fear away. Fear makes people not to reach the scales that they can reach. Tells us that whenever there is a huge task, many people won't venture at all to do it whereas only a few would go on to take it up and complete it. They are the people who are the successes which people look up to. And everyone must remember that they can as well do it if they are ready to face the challenge.

In the process he reminds us of the importance of discipline Price of discipline is always less than the pain of regret. And so it went on...

I was feeling uneasy to continue listening to him. I am generally skeptical about talks like these which talk on Living Life Fully.

Yet I wanted to see what Robin had to say. I would have been happier had he kept in mind that he is addressing an Indian audience and not a Western audience. He said he has nothing to tell about Indian culture which the audience would surely have known and says that he has learnt a lot from the lives of M K Gandhi and Mother Teresa among others. He addressed the audience in the same style as in my opinion he would have addressed his European or American audience and that is where I am unhappy with him as a speaker.

It was more than irritating during the Q & A session where there was something like what one would call as Hero-Worship of Robin. I do not want to be a bit more harsh in terming it sycophancy, or servility to the success of Robin.

With all these thoughts in mind, during the Q & A session, I asked him a question - this is what went on approximately:

Me: How essential do you think is one's relation with one's own language, religion and culture for all that you've been saying? In my frank opinion, if my relation were strong,I would not have come here to listen to you.

Robin:I can't get the question, could you repeat it for me?

Me: |same question|

Robin: As far as the second part of your question goes, you not listening to me, you are perfectly at liberty. I would not mind that.

Me: But it's the first one, importance of one's own language, religion and culture to living life fully -

Robin: Yeah, culture is important, language.... I need some time to think. Give me my one-third of the time to think, I shall answer your question. Or may be we can meet off the stage by which time I hope to answer your question.

Me: Thank you, Robin.

So we met after the talk. There was a long queue of people who were longing to take his autograph on their newly bought Monk who sold his Ferrari copies. And I was there, as a hindrance to them. This is what went on between me and him:

Me: Hi, Robin, hope you had a nice one-third of your time thinking. It's me who asked you this question -
Robin: Yeah, I think it helps to know the language, religion am not sure and I do not know (he seemed to be in a hurry)
Me: (I began) I feel that our sense of understanding of our own language,religion and culture give us enough exposure to lead a happy life according to what you were saying- for example, there is this nice poem in Telugu which talks of the different kinds of people and their reactions to a difficult task.

aarambhimparu neecha maanavulu vighnaayaasa santrastulai
aarambhinchi parityajintururu vignaayattulai madhyamul
(Robin: Can we do this quickly? I've got this huge line of people waiting for my autographs. I definitely seem to like what you are saying)

Me: Sure, ...
dheerul vighnanihanya maanulaguchun dhRityunnatotsaahulai
praarabdaarthamulujjagimparu sumee prajnaanidhul gaavunan.

Which translates to - People in the world are classified as three different kinds.
The first kind is those who do not start a work for fear of facing obstacles/ difficulties who are those of the lowly kind, the second kind, who start a work and leave it in the middle the moment they face an obstacle - they are medium kind and finally those who despite all difficulties stand up to the task and finish it - who are the noble ones.

Robin: Oh, yeah, I perfectly agree with you. That's a nice poem. I am definitely interested. (I was with my young sister along my side) Oh hi, who do we have here? what's your good name? (My sister replies) Would you like to have an autograph ?

Me: No, Robin, thank you. (We move out)

Thus ended my tryst with Robin. I am not sure if Robin got my message in his busy schedule. But, I did what I thought I wanted to do. One of the most important reason why I did so was the people around me who listened to my question or for that matter listened to this conversation would have realised the greatness of Indianness which they seem to be losing or have no idea of what it is.

To give you a sample of my thoughts on what Robin said - Let's take his way of going to his children every night and telling them that he loves them. In India, it may not happen. Parental love, especially a father's love is never expressed to his son/ and the story of Bhaaravi is a great example of this. And this in no manner means that he does not love them. The parent-child relationship that Robin talks of is alien to India. And his means of talking on the developing a child is something that we do not need.

Another instance - Robin says "We need to grow as world-class human beings" - I fail to understand what he means by "world-class" - I am always happy to be a human-being. The talk seems to try and mix two things which follow different paths - a profit oriented motive based in one direction (I think I did not mention it earlier - He says "I really am worried when I listen to someone who says that he is perfectly content with what he has. There should be at least some amount of discomfit somewhere to have some productive development") and the second a life in which a person has a peaceful death and is hailed by people around as a good man - the notions which speak of the differences between the Eastern and Western Cultures. Trivialising these, is something that made me feel sick. It appeared like a talk meant not for those who were thinking and those whose thinking is a reflection of the Indian culture. It was talk for those who were not doing that and who have western model of thinking. When I told a friend of mine about my question and this talk he replied saying:

he's just capitalizing on what the western world is lacking & the indians are losing

I couldn't have put it better. This is definitely something in my mind. And now you know, why I was very happy when Robin said - I am not a Guru. I am not any kind of a Guru.

I think I should add this. Robin may be good at what he normally does - motivating people into action, making them locate opportunities and all that is required for businesses to run, but,if he is talking about personal life, then I think it is very much necessary for him to note the cultural traits of the land he is speaking, for yet again, putting Robin's words in a different light from what he said "culture is one of the most important thing to make you're self great". Needless to say when he was referring to culture, he was referring to work culture there.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fell asleep reading your blog !!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005 7:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a long sleep indeed !!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005 8:51:00 PM  
Blogger agastyabhrata said...

Anonymous can come out of his anonymity. No offense taken when no offense meant.

Thursday, October 13, 2005 4:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymity is not an intimidation to you ... It is just to help you not get bogged down by the prejudice towards the person and think rationally.

Monday, October 17, 2005 8:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear brother,
I did not fall asleep reading it! Never even for a second could I think of taking my eyes off your article.
Coming to your post, I think it is a nice post. I will come back to what you have written later. Before that, Why do you go after people chasing them when you have (or seem to have) a clear sense of conviction and self-pride? Why are you bothered about who the anonymous is? Are you not just giving that anonymous person a reason to laugh at you? Why? If you think this is greatness, you are mistaken and if you did it without knowing what you were dong - it is ignorance. In either case try to think about it.

Robin Sharma (and likes) survive because people go and listen to them. 89% of these people go under social obligations. 10% of them go due to curiosity and end up assimilating as much of the talk as was the greatest contribution of India to mathematics. 1% like you go to find the other person's perspective.
My advice to you - DON't ask people questions which you know for sure they don't have answers to.

Saturday, November 05, 2005 2:04:00 AM  
Blogger agastyabhrata said...

* Anonymous 1

If my posts have induced you into some good sleep, happy sleeping :) I love sleeping myself :D
This is what I wanted to mean. Not sure what you have taken of it. Inshallah, did not got intimidated at all by your comments; as for prejudice, I would not want to comment. Thanks for spending time on typing a comment.

* Anonymous 2

Dear Brother,

Firstly, thank you very much for your comments.

I have not thought deeply when I commented back - "Anonymous can come out of his anonymity" - but your questions give me a chance to think again. Thank you once again for that.

"DON't ask people questions which you know for sure they don't have answers to"

I am not really sure if the other side has an answer to the question. I do not want to make an assumption that they won't have it, though sometimes I might be skeptical about what answer the other person might give. And IMHO, the best way to get clear the skepticism is to go and ask the question. I feel that this is a better way than framing opinions without asking the question itself.

Sunday, November 06, 2005 11:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Lloyd said...

Well some people get it some people dont. But for me Robin Sharma has well and truly touched my life. After reading his books, i realised the importance of the empty and materialistic life i was living. I got my self in shape. Lost 20 pounds. Became more organised, a better worker, a better leader. I couldnt have asked for more. For me Robin Sharma truly rocks

Sunday, September 14, 2008 1:58:00 PM  
Blogger NSH said...

indeed a cherishing post... i appreciate your views... people feel asleep when they dont get the true meaning out of it...
aarambhimparu neechamaanavulu is a grt telugu poem and every telugu speaking person feels proud of those gems..
please go on with many more interesting subjects..all the best

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:13:00 PM  
Blogger ganesh balasti said...

Yes It is Exactly true actually vemana shathaka and sumathi shathaka gives lots of this which are useful in daily life.thank you so much for sharing this all. inspirational quotes

Saturday, March 07, 2015 10:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10 or 100 years later, this will still make perfect sense. My thoughts exactly too.

How are you?

Friday, July 10, 2015 9:10:00 PM  
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