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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Winning lessons from Andy Murray's triumph

Andy Murray won the first Grand Slam title after losing four Grand Slam finals. Like he said in his interview " I knew it would happen. But i was wondering when?". 

Murray's US open final match against Djokovic is a classic example of how achieving desired results is more of a battle against oneself than a battle against a competitor. In 2010, Murray cried when he lost the Australian Open final to Federer and he sobbed again when he lost the Wimbledon final to Federer in July 2012. But if you have seen his US open match on Monday night 1.30 am IST, you will understand the three principles of achievement that were described earlier.

1. Achieving desired results is about making multiple choices to develop your strength 

Andy Murray is a defensive player, but Ivan Lendl, who became his coach 7 months back focused on developing his forehand aggressively. Boris Becker credited this aggressive forehand as a significant factor in the win( Please refer to his TImes of India article ). It is important to focus efforts on one/two areas because one cannot dissipate energy in too may directions. 

Developing one strength takes lot of time,practice and lot of micro decisions over a long period of time. Observe what Ivan Lendl, his coach, said about his practice over a period of 7 months. As Ivan lendl, his coach said, "Both Andy and I were saying, 'Give us six to nine months'," the 52 year-old said. "Do the maths. You can help somebody, clearly, in a very short period of time. "However, it takes longer than that to help more, for the progress to set in. You cannot do that in one week, you cannot do it in one month."

Lessons for graduate students: What strength areas have you focused during your graduation? Out of the various subjects, which subjects have you focused on? If you are graduating as IT Engineer, are you focusing on Systems design or C language development? Or requirement analysis? or Security aspects? Given the extensive syllabus, one cannot give equal time to all the subjects. In order to reach 1000 feet depth in a subject, it is necessary to chose certain subjects to focus. What have you focused on? And more importantly, you have to make many micro decisions to remain focused on your strength.

2. Achieving desired result is about using the forced situations ( good or bad)differently 

The second aspect of achievement is about utilising different events that one does not choose, but one is forced into. 
Observe how Ivan Lendl helped Murray used the loss of Australian open 2012 to Djokovic. "To me, one of the most important matches of Andy's year was his loss to Novak in the Australian Open semi-final, because that was a war just like this one. It gave him the belief that he could hang in with these guys.  It showed him what it took to win." 

"Ever since he partnered with Ivan Lendl, Murray has been a better player, most importantly with his attitude and his approach in difficult situations", said Boris Becker

Lessons for graduate students: How are you using the forced situations in your life to grow ? As we have seen,  mental growth is more important. For instance, if your lecturer of C Programming likes to discourage students, how are you using this forced situation? Are you for instance using the discouragement to prove his worth? Or are you using free online websites to learn C programming?

How are you reacting to forced situations to enhance your learning? More than your ability to weather tough situations,this ability to use force situations will help you develop a 'i-can' mindset instead of 'i-am-a-victim' mindset. This winning attitude will go a long way in helping you win in your life.

3. Achieving results is about winning the battle with your mind's demons 

"In the past, we all accused him of losing big matches because of his state of mind, not necessarily because of his tennis". Boris Becker said in his above interview about Murray. In Murray's case, therefore it was clear that he was fighting a big battle with his mind's demons. 

Because of losing four Grand Slam finals, he had to keep away the 'self doubt' and somehow find a way to believe that he can still win the Grand Slam. Murray did not assume that this demon will somehow be reigned;  but like a winner he took one concrete step in reigning this demon. He hired Lendl (who had not coached before) as a coach ? By hiring Lendl as his coach, who also had lost four Grand Slam Finals before winning his first Grand Slam final, Murray took a big step in controlling this demon. 

 From the US open final match statistics, one can safely infer that Murray managed to reign his mind's demons.His 9 breaks of serve and 56 unforced errors clearly showed that the match was not played to his best ability. Despite this, Murray managed to keep his composure. Despite losing two set lead, he managed to check his demons in time and still manage to produce 'just good enough' performance in the fifth test and win. 

Lessons for graduate students: What are you doing to conquer your mind's demons? Are you getting stressed that you will not get a job after graduation, or are you using that stress to study the job industry in advance and get your desired job? Are you getting overwhelmed by the college studies, are you still managing to put your best in studying those subjects? Have you allowed your difficult teachers to raise your self-doubt, or are you still nurturing your 'can-do' mindset and finding someone else to teach you?


Most importantly, achieving results is not about winning a match, even it is a Grand slam final.  As Andy Murray nicely said in his interview "I am happy to be a part of this era in tennis. I always said that maybe if i played in another era maybe i would have won more, but wouldn't have been as good a tennis player'. That is a prayer of a top class Achiever. Winning is not the end, it is just a means to an end. 
It is about stretching oneself to one's fullest potential. It is about rewriting the meaning of achievement. It is about finding God on this earth. 

Are you nurturing the three practices of Achievement consistently?  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

To sustain achievement, mind training is more important

Mind training versus intellectual training

When we go through life, we have to train ourselves. We train in two ways: intellectually and mentally. Intellectual training is learning new concepts ( such as marketing strategy, Java or Cancer treatment) and applying them in real  world. Mind training is about learning to see the as-is situation/event ( reality) without getting biased by one's feeling or interpretation. 

Although both are different, they are also related. Mind training definitely stops intellectual learning. For instance, after attending a period, of say maths or chemistry, when we accept that we cannot understand the chapter, we can do something to correct our situation. But if we distort the reality and refuse to accept that we have not understood the chapter of maths, we are stuck up. When we can see as-is reality without distortion, we can respond to the situation with far more options. Without mind training intellectual learning gets hampered sooner or later.

What is mind training?

In real life reality is not as one-dimensional like 'not understanding a chapter in mathematics'. When we are interacting with a friend, for instance, situation ( or reality) has multiple perspectives or views. For instance, in an argument with our friend, multiple perspectives exist of the same reality. Did the friend insult me because i hurt my friend first? Or did he insult me because he misunderstood me? In such a situation, seeing multiple perspectives of the same reality from different angles is critical, because seeing only one partial perspective of a situation will drastically reduce our options. In multi-dimensional reality, trained Mind is important to increase our options.  

Training Mind is difficult, because it is very easy to see only one perspective (view) and stick to it. We avoid seeing different perspectives of same reality due to our biases. Such as Likability bias. For instance, if we do not like our friend, we avoid to see his view of reality. Or the confirmation bias. If we have already concluded that we are right, we will refuse to see any other view of reality. Or availability bias. We will search only for that information which is available to us, refusing to consider any other information. Or recency bias. We will use only recent information that will confirm our view, instead of using distant information of past ( like what happened a week before with our friend).

Because of the way we grow, we inherit many biases from our cultural, social, religious beliefs which make it more difficult to see multiple perspectives of a situation.Because of the above difficulties, training our Mind is not as straightforward and assured as intellectual training. It can slip any time. It takes conscious and deliberate effort from our side to train our Mind. Unlike Intellectual training, training our mind is a solitary activity and involves understanding how our emotions, stress, beliefs and willpower interact together and with the environment outside to create its own dynamic.

On the other hand, intellectual learning also helps trained mind, when it reduces our beliefs ( biases). For instance, by intellectually understanding that efforts can produce only outputs ( and not outcomes), we can avoid to hold a belief that ' Results depend on God'. Avoiding these kind of beliefs increases our options of finding ways to 'influence' results, if not control them.


More importantly, we must understand that both growths - intellectual and mind - are different. It is necessary to understand the principles of mind growth and consciously practice them. If we practice them consciously, our mind gets trained. If we do not practice it deliberately and consciously, we may not 'read the situation' irrespective of the experience and age. And please remember that if our mind growth stops, it also stops intellectual growth sooner or later.

In other words, we do not have any choice. If we have to grow intellectually, we have to grow mentally. Training Mind is not a choice, it is a necessity for all of us, because it helps us achieve our monetary and career goals far more easily and gracefully. It helps us make a better society to live in. And above all, it helps us find satisfaction in our today's life.

Are you training your mind consciously in your life?