I have been a Michael Jackson (MJ) Fan since I was little and all of my high school buddies were captivated with his style, moves and his unforgettable songs. I still remember buying my first set of CDs which I bought in US was the "Thriller and Dangerous" from my stipend. For those of us who grew up in the 80's he was a big pop star and still to this date, his style is unparalleled. Today the talk of the town was Michael Jackson. Most people were just upset with the demise and has been flipping channels reading more about how this event happened, getting depressed about the whole thing. There is no question that he will be missed.
But what can we learn from his life?
I am not discussing about the controversy surrounding his personal life but regarding his past successes and failures. What is that we can learn from this icon's life?
Yes, MJ was extremely talented and worked hard to earn that reputation of reaching out to all over the world. One of the biggest temptations successful people face is to stop thinking big. After a taste of success, even the best and brightest like MJ suddenly start to think complacently. When they are on a roll, some tighten up and start playing it safe. They stop playing to win and begin playing not to lose. Where they once thought big and new, now they think incrementally.
We have seen people lose their momentum and then lose the fortune because instead of playing to win, they began to play not to lose? They get ahead, but then they pull back and stop playing with the intensity that earned them the lead. Back in the 80s, he appears to be cruising toward its best years ever, when all of a sudden the focus shifted from gaining momentum to sustaining momentum. The moment there is change in focus, momentum vanishes.
Momentum is definitely great inflator. When you have it, people think you're better than you are. You are on a roll and everybody is amazed by your success. When you lose momentum, people think you're worse than you are. Momentum magnifies your performance, and positive momentum can be a potent force to push you forward.
We are today where our thoughts brought us, and we will be tomorrow where our thoughts take us.When we stop thinking big as leaders and dwell upon protecting past successes, we start to think conservatively. The big thoughts that gave us a big year are replaced by conservative thoughts which will give us a mediocre year.
What are we supposed to do when experience successes??
I learned from successful entrepreneurs not to slow down and read the press clippings (of your own success).Instead look around for somebody that's bigger, better, faster, and smarter than you are. Study their successes and benchmark your results against theirs. I did this when I was preparing for coming to US, because very quickly in my field I had successes. Instead of being content with where I was, I started associating with people who were performing better. It was an exercise in humility; but I immediately realized the way to refocus wasn't to compare myself against everyone I was beating, but to compare myself with somebody better than I was.
I noticed by watching my advisor Dr. KS Viswanathan never to be satisfied with status quo. Dissatisfaction does not mean you are never pleased or satisfied. Nor is it a license to beat yourself up or come down hard on your people. Instead, it's a creative awareness that you can do better. You can do more to improve personally and to invest exhaustively in the growth of your team. This state of mind unlocks your comfort zone and prompts you to keep on stretching. I have observed a pattern that they maintain just enough discomfort to keep them continually alert and engaged.
If you can reach your goals with a "business as usual" approach, then your goals are too small. A goal is only effective when it forces changes, big decisions, and bold action. The thinking of a leader is contagious to the team. As a leader, you broadcast your way of thinking to people around you, and they are going to pick up on your signals immediately. Unsuccessful leaders focus their thinking on survival."If I can just make it through the year." Average leaders focus their thinking on maintenance."If I can just hold on to what I have." Successful role models focus their thinking on continual progress.
MJ displayed amazing show of talent, set a high standard but slowed down and started relying on past successes. Great leaders are constantly creating their own conditions for success by blazing new trails.
Let us learn from this great icon to blaze new trail, keep the momentum on but also strive for high standards of excellence which makes us a continuous learner and taking responsibility by looking at the Man in the Mirror.
Like MJ said " If you wanna make the world a better place, then take a look at yourself and make the change."