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13 May 2012

Book Review:"The Habit of Winning", Author: Prakash Iyer

For all of you who felt that there was no Self-Development book with Indian Perspective, here comes 'The Habit of Winning' written by Prakash Iyer.

Mr.Iyer is the Managing Director of Kimberly Clark Lever India and is based out of Pune. This book evolved out of the articles that he wrote (and continue to write) in the Motivational Column in Careers 360

Habit of Winning is the first book written by Mr.Iyer. The book is based on all the lessons that Mr.Iyer was imparting over a period of time through his column.

This is a very good, easy to read book, filled with examples and very relevant and topical anecdotes. All the key points are illustrated with stories that add a punch to the points being illustrated. While there are anecdotes from various countries it is the stories from India that brings out the 'Aha' moment to an Indian reader. The anecdote of ' Breaking the Dahi Handi' beautifully illustrates the concept of team work like no other illustration would.

Being an avid cricket enthusiast, Mr.Iyer brings out the stories from the cricket field to illustrate some of his points. Irfan Pathan's example illustrates how one could handle pressure (when he bowled a tight final over and took 2 wickets helping India score a rare series win against Australia), Sachin Tendulkar (when he was hit on the nose by a bouncer from Waqar Yunis and still batted on to save a test match against Pakistan!)and Anil Kumble's (when he bowled 14 overs against the West Indies with a fractured jaw!) examples on the other hand illustrate the value of perseverance and then the remarkable story of Navjot Siddhu to llustrate personal transformation. From being one of the slowest scorers in Indian cricket, Siddhu went on to become one of the leading one-day batsman for the Indian team, that is personal transformation for you!.

Mr.Iyer talks about a boxer to explain how to get over personal setbacks. Once a boxer is hit and is lying on the floor, he has just 10 seconds to bounce back and continue the fight. Most often the great boxers win their matches by quickly bouncing back from the fall. Mr.Iyer points out that most often we as individuals deliberate over our failures too much and forget to bounce back quickly to fight another fight...

The book is well structured with eleven logical groups. Starting with the importance of goal setting, the book takes us through various personal characteristics including Self-belief, Perseverance, the mindset of a winner and the importance of Giving. The next group focus on the Winning bias, a set of action items that define a winner. From there we seamlessly move on to the importance of teams and the next group explains how we can find our balance in life. The book ends by calling us to act upon our lessons that we learned in life and in the book. 

In the beginning of his career, the author worked with Pepsico in India. It is no wonder that he brings up experiences from his Pepsico years to illustrate some of the points. The reader gets a brief peek at the legendary competition between Pepsico and Coke !!.

The author mentions that he also reads a lot of western motivational literature and some of the points are influenced by such greats as Brian Tracy and Zig Ziglar.

Any book that seek to influence and motivate you should have the following characteristics. It should have a structure, it should not be preaching, it should partner with you in your growth journey, the points should be intuitive (Why did I not think of it that way? like I felt when I read the story of Boxer and his 10 Seconds) and illustrations and anecdotes should be relevant and significant.

As far as these characteristics go, this book eminently fits the bill.

In my opinion, this book is very relevant to the current state of the country. India has moved on to a growth trajectory and in the coming years, the country will need leaders who can see the big picture (the so called 30000 feet view) as well as appreciate the detailed picture. India has, in its 5000 year history, generated a significant set of motivational and leadership literature. However, almost all of them are either in the form of Metaphors (like Mahabharata) or downright philosophical (like the Upanishads). To meet our leadership needs, we need motivational and leadership literature that simplifies, illustrates and elaborates the traditional lessons with modern, contemporary examples. That is where books like 'The Habit of Winning' play a significant role.  

Go ahead and read it....It is worth your time. You will be a better person once you complete the book...

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