Sunday, 3 November 2013

Don't Be An Office Tomato

The life of a tomato is an incredible parabola. Every moment from the moment of its inception, it grows. It grows until it reaches a moment in time so significant that it changes the entire future of this beautiful fruit. That moment is when a tomato is the ripest. At that point in time it has the most amount of nutrition that it ever would. It is the juiciest and full of Lycopene. But a tragic thing happens next. Something so unfortunate that the life of a tomato never remains the same from that moment on. Because every moment from that moment, the tomato is rotting. It is rotting until it reaches it demise. 

THANK GOODNESS THAT WE'RE NOT A TOMATO! Thank goodness that we have the ability to upskill ourselves and we can grow after reaching a peak to find yet another one and another one and another one. This growth pattern can go on for as long as you live. If Peter Drucker learned a new subject every three of four years[1] until he died then why can't you and I? We can grow to find higher heights of our understanding to see things from a whole new perspective!
And when we do this long enough we create a pattern for ourselves. A pattern of learning and growth. One that never ends, thriving upwards, to not settle with the norms of mediocrity in understanding. 

The condition of an Office Tomato is a very sinister one. It's very quiet and devious. It creeps up on one without him or her even being aware of it. Many a times it has very faint symptoms, ones you would barely notice. It makes you think what you're doing at office; your work, your boardroom meetings, your scheduling and your strategizing, is all there is that you are to do. And it inevitably makes you slip into your quadrant 4 - Not Urgent & Not Important. Disregarding the growth and the opportunities that come with it until you become an office tomato who's peak was some time in the past and not in the present.

So to aid this ailment, there's only one question that I will urge you to ask yourself. And if you can answer this question honestly, you will have known for yourself if you've become an office tomato or not. In the words of our Associate Partner, Subramanian Kalpathi -
"When was the last time you did something for the first time?"

And we leave with you with one suggestion: Don't be an office tomato!

1. My Life as a Knowledge Worker by Peter Drucker Published Feb 1 1997

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Why 90% of Training Programs Fail

"All organizations want results from training programs but most of them don't do their due diligence in understanding what's needed. And most of those who do; don't spend enough effort in designing relevant programs."
Today, organizations think that their performance issues lie in one simple thing: Training. So what do they do? They spend their time and energy designing a learning agenda for the year which usually constitutes 5-7 man-days of training for every individual. Once they have designed this yearly agenda, they spend the rest of their time convincing their employment to attend the training. And when finally their employment attends the training program; to their surprise the results are nowhere to be seen. Why is this the case? Why is it that 90% of the training programs conducted result in an absolute waste?
and foremost we must commit to move away from the quick-fix mentality

The deadline is approaching and you've been so busy with other work that you never had the time to finalize the training program and now you'll take anything that comes your way. You haven't given yourself enough time to pick and choose the material for the training session and match it against the requirement of the trainee with alignment to the organizational goals. This requires some planning, this requires being proactive and, more importantly, it requires discipline to not be lazy and take the easy way out. It requires some due diligence on an HR executive's part. But most of us are tossed around by our circumstances, controlled by them. Before organizations train their mainstream employees in areas like delegation, time management, prioritization and individual effectiveness, they ought to train their HR staff to ensure these skill sets are ingrained in them first. After all if the HR executive himself does not have a handle on things because of his lack of discipline, inability to delegate tasks and disorganized priorities, then how can he be expected to do his due diligence through the planning phase of a training program?

we must strive towards enabling understandings rather than 

Techniques change as time passes. The technique used to fish a hundred years ago is different than the technique used today. The understanding here remains constant: there is a fish underwater and it needs to be caught and brought outside; why? to be eaten, traded, etc... The understanding is the 'what' and perhaps even the 'why'. The technique is the 'how' which changes from situation to situation. Different fishing equipment is used in different waters i.e. The Dead Sea VS The Pacific Ocean. We must understand that if people know what they're trying to accomplish and why they're doing it, how they do it just might amaze us.

we must recognize the fact that training may not be the answer to all our performance related problems
The problem could lie in one or more of three major areas. Pin-pointing the problem is the hard part, it's the part that requires the HR executive to not be lazy.

If the people lack the required skills knowledge or experience then training is required

If people don't want to develop themselves because they don't fully understand the value of training. This requires motivation. Leaders need to inspire them by relating work to what's most important to them - Needs, Values, Goals, Attitudes, Interests, etc...

They may know how, they may even be motivated to do the work but might lack authority, guidance, information, personnel, facilities, supplies, tools, technology, transportation, funds or other resources. Since these things are depended on the organization, people rely on management to empower them

This is the success rate of an average training program in light of the real performance issues.

The success rate of an average training program is a mere 10% with respect to the desired outcome from the specific program

That is because we disregard the real performance issues. 

Performance issues could be in one off three main areas: Lack of Desire, Lack of Skill, Lack of Enabling

Of the three areas; two -knowledge and interest- could be controlled by HR executives. The third is an organizational initiative which is to make resources available. But by doing this we will increase our odds of providing an impactful solution.

Identifying the problem
Below are some of the key competencies which were identified last year for the mid-level managers of a major manufacturing company. Every mid-level manager was put through four days of training. Each training day covered a different competency as each of these competencies were identified as a need from the Training Need Analysis. No competency was consider to trump another as no priority or importance value was given to them. As a result, there were four training programs: Strategy -which covered decision making and strategic thinking; Prioritization - which covered planning, work/life balance and delegation; Influencing/Persuasion - which covered negotiation, driving results and empowering employees and Team Work - which covered collaboration, competition and unison. Because the company had mandated four days of training for every employee, Martha, the HR executive, now had to try to fit all these competencies in those four days. Without the sense of importance of a specific competency with reference to context, Martha was unable to effectively prioritize between competencies, hence considered them all equal. "To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail" -Mark Twain (See Table Below). A one-day session for each of these competencies were arranged and executed with great expectations but they were in for a shock. An assessment conducted 90 days after each session revealed that less than 20% of what was taught was retained. A greater shock was that the subordinates didn't feel there were any changes in the manager's approach in the previously taught competencies, i.e. problem solving, decision making, etc... (See 'Training Outcome' below to see Competency Importance compared to the Training Outcome). What happened here was that there were four standalone ideas which were presented by, possibly, four different people/vendors. As a result, nothing much was absorbed or internalized by the trainees.

Unrealized competencies are one in the same regardless of the actual urgency of a certain skill for the company. There is no discrimination with respect to the competencies

This causes HR executives to distribute the training days and their efforts across the board on all the competencies. This  leads to not having successfully taught any of the skills

When HR executives begin to show discrimination towards the competencies based on what is most urgent for the company at the current moment, they can highlight and focus on that competency and tackle it head-on

Does this mean that the training programs which were conducted we not effective enough? No. Maybe the trainers weren't good enough. Not that either. Maybe the content wasn't effective. Not at all! As ironic as it sounds, the outcome of the training had very little to do with the training itself. It had to do with the intangibles of the training. One of Martha's first errors was to not be proactive in recognizing the most important competency of the set gathered from the TNA. Many of us reading this study might be thinking: "That's not me, I certainly consider what's more important." But the truth is that most of us do what Martha did at one level or another. We may not do it to that extent, yet we become lazy in aligning the identified competencies with what's most important; not only for the individual but also for the organization at the respective level. If Martha had done that she would have found that all competencies are important, which is why they were identified in the first place, yet one competency holds precedence over all others (See 'Competency Importance (Actual)'). She would learn that Influencing/Persuasion is most needed in this specific scenario for these group of people. This would enable her to put more stress on Influencing/Persuasion programs than on the others. But there's more to the solution than just this.

Regressive Progression™

"Regressive Progression™" is a term coined collectively by TeamMemcorp through one of their "Breaking Barriers" sessions. Regressive Progression™ is a process of training. It focuses on developing new skills without losing what has been taught in the past. In order to apply the understanding effectively it's important to prioritize the competencies first.

The idea is built on sequential-tasking as opposed to multitasking. For instance, if Martha was to apply a Regressive Progression™ approach in her project, she would focus her efforts towards tackling the most important competency - Influencing/Persuasion. She would design the four days of training around four interconnected aspects of Influencing/Persuasion. Further, she would ensure that each session progressively builds on what was taught in the previous session. This equates to four sessions on similar material with an add-on each time. This in itself becomes a support system to the trainees as they can come back to the next session and discuss the challenges they had in the application of what was taught initially. Trainees usually try to apply what they learn but due to the lack of a support system, they're forced to give up. Regressive Progression™ keeps the retention rate high as it's a continuation of where the last session left off (See 'Training Outcome (Regressive Progression™) below).

Though as an outcome, other competencies are not work upon at all, HR executives can expect to have successfully taught one core skill which was initially the most urgent of all skills

Corporate Training must be more than just a yearly budgetary exercise for Corporations. As firms grow and evolve, they must also consider the personal and professional growth of their employees. This can be done through a deep training need analysis, high-impact learning sessions, periodic interventions to ensure continuous improvement and constant feedback which makes the learning process itself evolutionary in nature.
Subramanian Kalpathi
Associate Partner, Memcorp LPS

Now that we have clearly understood our predicament, the question still remains; how do we identify if the problem is lack of knowledge or interest?

The easier of the two to tackle is the lack of knowledge challenge. It comes with definite signs. These are the people who are usually motivated at work. They're the ones who will ask about the upcoming training programs. They are also the ones who will be in constant council with their managers to learn about the areas in which they could improve. As you read these characteristics you might think to yourself that these people are incredibly rare which is not true. The fact is that there are many people with at least some of these characteristics, they would just do these things, but very subtly. No one likes to make a fool of themselves by letting others know that they don't know what to do in a certain situation. Yet you'll find them reading self help books and articles which give direction to overcome challenges. You will find three or more of these six characteristics in these people: Job Satisfaction, Commitment, Discretionary Effort, Emotional Stability, Locus of Control and High Self-Esteem. If these are the people who are not performing at higher levels, nine times out of ten the problem lies in either knowledge or resources. Training these people can and will resolve the problem given that the content of the training is ingrained in the trainees through some form of reiterative method. 

The real challenge is when we're trying to engage the non-engageables. Yes, there is a group of people in your very own organization who are non-engageable. These are the people who are not motivated about learning and developing themselves. They don't see any value in training. So when nominated to attend a training of any sort, they come back unchanged with no intention to apply anything they were exposed to. These people don't need a training program they need a more fulfilling job. They are in positions where they don't belong which is frustrating not only for them but also for their subordinates. The root of it all is a lack of job satisfaction which leads to an array of problems and dis-harmonies. Much of this actually has to do with the personality of the individual with respect to the function of the job. This challenge is best tackled at the very onset; at the recruitment stage. If the recruitment team is well equipped, they will weave through the potentially non-engageables. There are tools available for the recruitment team to assess personality types to avoid future disappointments of a bad recruit. But what if the deed has already been done and you already have these people on board? There are three areas which can potentially change these people's attitudes to be more receptive and engageable.

JOB SATISFACTION | They must feel a sense of satisfaction in what they do. Money will only go so far when it comes to real satisfaction. Satisfaction must be tied to an emotional connect for these people where they feel they're making a difference with what they're doing.

EMOTIONAL STABILITY | They must have a work/life balance in order to be emotionally stable. Companies must encourage people to leave work on time, to return home and resume their personal lives though the they may be adamant to stay. This will pay off on a longer run when the employee appreciates the time he had to spend with his family. 

SELF ESTEEM | Self confidence and self esteem cannot be taught in a training room. This has to be instilled by managers, peers and subordinates. Research has shown that negative, pessimistic employees with low self-esteem not only decrease your customer satisfaction, but they do not leave voluntarily. Consequently, your company must develop a culture and a process that supports the reduction of these types of employees especially in customer contact positions. Companies that have a positive culture automatically help people attain a positive high self-esteem. Cultural solutions are available for companies to take advantage of and to bring about a positive culture in their organizations.

To conclude...

If you consider the three areas that reason a failed training program, you'll find exactly why your very own training programs might have failed in the past. We're trying to solve a 100% of our performance problems with a 30% chance of success. That's worse than flipping a coin. So our failure rate has already increased to 70%. Now, with the remaining 30% chance of success, our training programs are not designed to ingrain information in the trainees as they're not reiterative in nature which shaves off another 20% and leaves us with the 10% of success rate (See 'Current Training Scenario' below). These 10% of people that you are impacting are the highly engageables in your organization and you would get the same results with them if you merely gave them bullet points of the training programs. They're proactive enough to do the research and learn on their own. Upon incorporating a Regressive Progression™ approach we're able to move towards accomplishing a 100% of the 30% of performance issues that training will resolve (See 'Regressive Progression Training™ Scenario' below). As for the remaining 70%, we're able to resolve 45% of that by enhancing the culture of our organization through various available measures to provide job satisfaction above all (See 'Multi-Solution Scenario' below).

When we see things for what they're worth, we find that only 30% of the performance issues can actually be tackled with training in the first place

As a result from misunderstood requirement, training only gives us a 10% success with respect to the desired outcome to resolve performance issues

With Regressive Progression, the HR executive is able to maximize the entire training gamut with a solution with a direct correlation with performance, nevertheless, only a maximum of 30%

When the HR executive recognizes the various means through which performance issues can be resolved, he/she is then able to employ those tools to enable approximately 75% of success in tackling performance issues within the organization

So does this mean you should shut down your training initiatives all together? NO! But it does mean that we ought to think about our performance issues on broader terms. "Corporate Training must be more than just a yearly budgetary exercise for corporations. As firms grow and evolve, they must also consider the personal and professional growth of their employees. This can be done through a deep training need analysis, high-impact learning sessions, periodic interventions to ensure continuous improvement and constant feedback which makes the learning process itself evolutionary in nature." says Subramanian Kalpathi, Associate Partner of Memcorp Learning and Performance Solutions.

The Preparedness Equation

We have often heard that the success of an individual is based on two primary factors; opportunity and preparedness. Though this is true, we forget some great aspects of being prepared; our Personal Preparedness and our Circumstantial Preparedness. In order to understand this philosophy better it's important to understand our Circle of Concern and our Circle of Influence. The Circle Concern/Influence was first introduced by Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. 

What Covey states is that we spend our time in one of two circles; Circle of Concern or Circle of Influence. 

CIRCLE OF CONCERN[1]Your Circle of Concern is everything affects you but is completely out of your control. An example is perhaps you'd like your son to do well in school. Yet, what he does in school is your Circle of Concern because you have no control over him while he's there. Another example is that at your job, your process has moved to a different timezone, one that isn't necessarily convenient to you. Again we see the situation that affects us but we do not have a direct control over it. 

CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE[1]Your Circle of Influence is everything that you do have control over. Let's take the same example of your son in school. How he behaves in school is out of your control but what is in your control is how you develop your relationship with him which could lead him to listen to you and take your advice seriously when you tell him to act a certain way in school. Or how about the example of your process which moved to a different inconvenient timezone? Here you have a choice, you can either complain about how bad it is (Focus on Circle of Concern) or see what's in your control and do what is necessary. Perhaps it's inconvenient because you've build your life around your former schedule and now its hard to make the move. If you focus on your Circle of Influence, you'll be able to help yourself resolve the issue by doing what is in your control. Perhaps speaking to your manager about the inconvenience and having him move you to a process that better suits you. Maybe changing aspects your life to fit the new schedule or perhaps considering another job that can lead to even greater successes that you were not exposed to at your previous company.

Stepping into the Circle of Influence requires courage and discipline to do what must be done. It means to step out of your comfort zone and doing so has never, been, is, nor will ever be easy to do. What's most interesting is that the circle in which you spend most of your time will cause that circle to expand while shrinking the other circle. These circles are truly a great understanding to be understood because it can change the way we perceive and tackle many challenges in our day to day lives. Here is more information to practically help you with the circles
Our preparedness is not only dependent on our personal ability but also on our environment. How we are placed with respect to our environment changes our overall circumstance which can be either supportive or destructive and rarely neutral. 

When preparing yourself, it is crucial for us to take into consider not only how we prepare ourselves but also how our environment prepares us. In the process of preparation we, more often than not, only consider the personal preparation for the accomplishment of a task. This blindsided approach can cause two very detrimental situations to crop up. Either it can underestimate or overestimate the applied effort of an individual. You might ask; “Why is it important for me to know the applied effort for me or others?” Let us first see what Applied Effort is. 

Applied Effort

The applied effort is a very simple concept, it is the effort applied in accomplishing something. The applied effort quotient that two people might have in taking a test could be significantly different. One person could have to apply a 100% of effort while the other may be able to get the same score with only 50 or 60% of the effort. This is why results of a standardized form of testing should not be considered when forecasting the performer’s engagement or involvement towards any given subject. It is simply unfair because it does not provide a definite understanding of how hard that individual has had to work in order to get the score he got. 
It is important to know the Applied Effort quotient as it determines how much of an individual’s success is his personal effort and how much of it is the environmental push that helped him excel. For instance, in driving a car from point A to point B, two major forces affect the overall outcome (time, distance, fuel consumption, etc…) of the trip; the force pushing forward and the force holding back. The force pushing forward is the effort that the car has to make, this is the personal effort which is under one's control (Circle of Influence). The force holding back are the environmental constraints (wind, terrain, etc…), this is the environmental push/pull, which isn't under one's control (Circle of Concern).

Personal Preparedness and Circumstantial Preparedness
The environmental push/pull becomes the Circumstantial Preparedness which can be likened to the tailwind or headwind. And the personal effort becomes the Personal Preparedness which can be likened to the horsepower of the engine. Circumstantial Preparedness (tailwind/headwind) either makes life easier and tough challenges easily surmountable or difficult and minute challenges seem monumental. 

So how important are these factors in success of any form? We know that Opportunity + Preparedness = Success. Which means; 50% + 50% = 100% respectively, a very simple mathematical equation because both factors are equally important for a successful outcome. Opportunity is very Circle of Concern which is out of one's control in most cases, so let’s focus on preparedness because preparedness is Circle of Influence and in one's control. The two factors within the preparedness realm are also equally important as they are two sides of the same coin. They coexist in all situations. Hence; Personal Preparedness + Circumstantial Preparedness = Preparedness. Which means; 50% (Personal) + 50% (Circumstantial) = 100% of Preparedness. Let's delve deeper into each of these factors of preparedness. 

Circumstantial Preparedness

Our preparedness is not only dependent on our personal ability but also on our environment. How we are placed with respect to our environment changes our overall circumstance which can be either supportive or destructive and rarely neutral.

Let's take into consideration a very well known public figure from whom we draw inspiration; Michael Phelps, most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals in swimming. What I am about to illustrate is not something extraordinary, it's perhaps the most obvious of all things we come across, yet neglected to a far extent when considering preparing ourselves. 

Michael Phelps was born in Rodgers Forge, Maryland.[2] He started swimming at the age of seven and throughout his upcoming years had plenty of exposure and opportunity to swim. He swam for his elementary school, high school and college. When considering his exposure to the pool, it could very well be said that he spend a significant amount of his time in the pool. At the age of ten, Coach Bob Bowman noticed the talent and decided to build the skill further. Phelps quickly excelled with the support that he received from his friends, family and specifically his coach. By the age of 15, Phelps had over 10,000 hours of swimming under his belt and he had already broken the record of being the youngest male to compete in the Olympics[4] (This proves Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 Hour Rule correct)[3].The future for this young athlete was bright. He consistently set new records as he competed in championships over the next 10 years.[2]

2002Pan Pacific Championships 51.1 Split, Fastest Split in History[5]
20032003 World Championships Gold Medals, SIlver Medals, Broke World Records[6]
2004Summer Olympics Gold Medals, Bronze Medals, World Record TIme in 400-meter[7]
2005World Championships Gold Medals, Silver Medal[8]
2006Pan Pacific Championships Gold Medals, Silver Medal, Broke Own Record Time[9]
2007World Championships Gold Medals[10]
2008Summer Olympics Gold Medals, All-Time World Record[11]
2009World Championships Gold Medals,Silver Medal[12]
2010Pan Pacific Championships 50th National Title[13]
2011World Championships Fastest Butterfly Leg at 50.57[14]
2012Summer Olympics-Three Time Olympic Title Holder, Awarded Most Decorated Olympian in History[15]

From the story of Michael Phelps we can see a great degree of sheer relentless effort and tenacity to be successful. Yet if dug slightly deeper one would learn that his environment was all the more incredibly conducive for him to be as successful as he became. His circumstance was primarily his Circle of Concern, an area on which he had but little control. This is the family he was born into, the school he attended, the coach that coached him for over 10 years, the opportunities he had to swim and enhance his skill level, etc... One must not negate the key role of all these intangible factors that played a critical role in his success. Phelps' story could be compared to any aspiring inner-city swimmer who did not get half the facilities that Phelps did to be as success as he became. And as a result the inner-city swimmer did not achieve half the success that Phelps did. As a matter of fact, the same holds true to Phelps' closest competitors in all of the above mentioned competitions. Being an underdog, like Rocky Balboa, in real life is a rare sighting. So does this mean that one is destined to a fate of mediocrity and failure if one is not born in a certain family or region or if he didn't attend a certain school or if he didn't have the necessary support system in place to assist him? Let us consider the implications of such a question.

Personal Preparedness

The Personal Preparedness of an individual is what is primarily considered when we consider preparation. That is his personal capabilities and capacities to do what is necessary to achieve the grade. Let us illustrate an example of what could be considered as the epitome of Personal Preparedness. Christopher Gardner, CEO of Gardner Rich and Co.. The movie, The Pursuit of Happyness was based on the life story of this entrepreneur.[16] 

Growing up, Gardner did not have the most conducive environment and circumstance for growth and achievement. Gardner grew up in a foster home where he dabbled between his mother's home and the foster homes due to the instability of the foster homes that he was sent to. In his early experiences Gardner was exposed to alcoholism, domestic abuse, child abuse, illiteracy, fear and powerlessness and resolved he did not want these characteristics in his own life.

On June 18, 1977, Chris Gardner married Sherry Dyson, a Virginia native and an educational expert in mathematics. With his knowledge, experience and contacts within the medical field, it appeared Gardner had his medical career plans laid out before him. Gardner was advised to consider more lucrative career options; a few days before his 26th birthday, he informed his wife, Sherry, of his plans to abandon his dreams of becoming a doctor.[16]

Their son, Christopher Jarrett Medina Gardner Jr., was born on January 28, 1981. Gardner worked as a research lab assistant at UCSF and at the Veterans' Hospital after leaving the service. His position as a research lab assistant paid only about $8,000 a year, which was not enough for him to support a family.[17] He then took up a sales job selling medical equipment, which wasn't in demand at the time, to doctors and hospitals. Gardner got his "break" when he was accepted into a training program at Dean Witter Reynolds. He subsequently quit his sales job which raised questions of how he would afford to live. By quitting the sales job he was able to dedicate his time exclusively to training as a stockbroker. This decision of Gardner's convinced his wife that he wasn't going to amount to anything in life and talks of ending the relationship had sprung up. 

1977Married his wife[18]
1978Determined to be a doctor[16]
1980Abandoned dreams of being a doctor over current financial needs[16]
1981Son, Christopher Jarrett Medina Gardner Jr., was born[18]
1982Worked as a research lab assistant at UCSF[17]
1982He decided to become an intern at E. F. Hutton[18]
1982Relationship Turmoil - His relationship with his wife ended[18]
1983Financial Turmoil - He was asked to evacuate his apartment due to pending rent dues[18]
1983Homelessness -
  • He and his son were homeless in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco for nearly year
  • He would scramble to place his child in daycare, stood in soup kitchen and slept wherever he and his son could find safety — in his office afterhours, at flophouses, motels, parks, airports, on public  transport and even in locked bathroom at BART station[17]
1983Persistence -
  • He would arrive at the office early and stay late each day, to persistently make calls to prospective clients 200 calls/day
  • He would study relentlessly every night amounting to only or hours of sleep through many nights
  • Passed his licensing exam on the first try and eventually was recruited by Bear Stearns Company in San Francisco[17]
1987Established the brokerage firm, Gardner Rich Co, in Chicago, Illinois and the rest is history[19]

Chris Gardner is a true example of rag to riches through just about all sorts of life's challenges one can be confronted with. Despite his shortcomings Chris was able to become a success in his life because of his personal preparedness. He was able to increase his personal preparedness due to the lack in his circumstantial preparedness to give himself that 100% of preparedness necessary to strike the iron when the opportunity does present itself. 

Conclusion - The Equation

What you read here are two extremes of one equation. One, where the circumstance acted as the tailwind, paving the way for the a smooth sail. While the other, where the circumstance acted as a headwind, causing the basic survival needs to seem monumental. 

Consider your preparedness as a meter which has to be full in order for it to be of any use toward the final outcome i.e. success. Ideally, this meter has to be filled with 50% Circumstantial Preparedness and 50% Personal Preparedness.

But life is far from ideal. We face situations and circumstances in life that render this equation at an imbalance. What we must understand, in order to successfully use this equation, is where we stand at any given point in time of our lives. 

There could be a time in your life when you're missing a bar (25%) in your Circumstantial Preparedness. The key there is to realize what you're missing. 

And at that point you need to greater your Personal Preparedness in order to compensate for what is missing in the Circumstantial Preparedness. 
The hardest thing to do is to understand where you stand with respect to your current situation. Whether you have enough circumstantial push or not. Whether your circumstance is aiding or ailing you. And after all, if you have the personal strength to up your current Personal Preparedness. When you can honestly answer these questions, you could be on your way to success knowing what you need to do in order for its accomplishment. And it all boils down to what a great philosopher once said: 

"Man know thyself and thy shalt know the universe and God"-Pythagoras


1. Covey, Stephen R (1989, 2004) "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" (P-81-85) ISBN 0-7432-6951-9
2.  "Phelps' voyage"The Baltimore Sun. August 3, 2008. Archived from the original on September 5, 2010
3. Gladwell, Malcolm (November 18, 2008) "The Outliers" ISBN 978-0-316-01792-3
4. Phelps, Beneath the Surface, p. 85
5. Phelps, Beneath the Surface, p. 111
10. 12th FINA World Championships, Melbourne (AUS): Full Results Book: Records Broken By Event". Omega Timing. April 1, 2007. p. 190. Retrieved 2010-09-04.
11. "Phelps wins historic eighth gold medal". CNN. August 17, 2008. Archived from the original on August 25, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-25.
12. Karen Crouse (August 2, 2009). "Phelps Leaves Rome With Another Gold"The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-05.
14. "FINA World Championships, Swimming: Ryan Lochte Bests Michael Phelps For 200 Free Gold"Swimming World Magazine. July 26, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
15. "University of Michigan Official Athletic Site - Olympics". Mgoblue.Com. July 26, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
16. Gardner, Chris (2006). The Pursuit of Happyness. Amistad. ISBN 978-0-06-074487-8.
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