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29 September 2012

Shoe Polish Deliberations...

The other day, I went to a cobbler to get my shoe polished...

Having been used in some very dusty roads the previous two days, the shoe looked decidedly dirty and shabby.

The cobbler got to work. He applied the shoe polish, brushed it with hard brush first and then soft brush and then finally with a soft cloth and....

Lo and behold, the shoe was gleaming again.

The transformation was instantaneous and exciting.

While walking back to my office, I was thinking about this transformation. How did this happen? What did the cobbler do to facilitate this transformation? How did a dirty shoe turn into a glistening shoe in a matter of minutes. I could break down the transformation process into the following elements.

First, identification. I identified that the shoe was shabby. The perception of 'Shabbiness' was personal. What I found as 'Shabby' may be just a 'bit dusty' for some people. 

Next comes the Intention. Once I observed that the shoe was shabby, I decided that the shoe need to be polished. The intention started as a thought which was in mind for about two days before that became strong enough for me to take action. 

Once you have the intention, you will have to find the support resources, in this case, a cobbler.

Once I had identified the support resource in a nearby cobbler, next came the action. Even though I had identified the need for shoe polish and had the intention of doing so, I postponed for two days the action  of taking my shoe to cobbler. Until I took the shoe to the cobbler, till I took action, the polished shoe remained only as yet another of those good intentions.

After the shoe was taken to the cobbler, I was observing what he did. First of all, he collected and arranged all the material and resources that he needed to execute the transformation. He collected polish, brushes, smoothening cream and the soft clothes.

Finally came the process. There was specific sequence that he followed. First he brushed away the dirt. Then he applied the cream and spread it consistently across the shoe by the use of the hard brush. Once that was done, he applied the polish and spread it evenly on the shoe. After applying the polish, he kept the shoe aside for two to three minutes for the polish to sock in the leather. Finally, he used the soft brush to bring in the glisten and topped it off with a rub with the soft cloth.

Simple as it is when applied to shoe polishing, the same guiding principles apply to Goal Achievement. Let us take the example of Weight Reduction as a goal to illustrate the process mentioned above. First step is for us to identify that we are overweight. This will depend on our frame of reference. For example, if you are a sumo wrestler, you are fat and obese and overweight, but you do not identify this as a problem. So 'Weight Reduction' is not a goal for a Sumo Wrestler. For the rest of us, who decide that we are overweight,  the measure may be tightening pants, and for others need to adjust your belt lengths. Or a visit to your doctor for your annual check up. Each of us need a specific parameter to Identify our Goals. 

Once we have identified our goal, we need to have intention to change. Most of us will have the intention to change once we identify the goal. Else why we will even identify the goal in the first place? Identification of the goal and intention to change go hand in hand.

Next important step is to identify the support resources. In case of our goal of achieving the weight reduction, we will need to find a nearby Gym, or a playground where we can comfortably do the exercise. The earlier we find the support resources, the faster will be the next step of moving from intention to action. In my case for example, my process of weight reduction got a stumble block when the Treadmill in my apartment conked off and did not work for two months. I had got so used to the treadmill that once it conked off, I lost interest in continuing the process itself. What could I have done differently? I could have joined a Gym or gone for a walk of done something. 

The tricky part is to convert intention into action. Just like I did it in the case of taking the shoe to the cobbler, we all need to convert our intentions into action. Taking that first step is the most difficult. We can follow the steps given by Leo Babauta in his blog Zen Habits to create the habit of moving from intention to action. 

Ok, now we have identified the goal, have an intention of moving from the current state a desired future state and have taken action, what next.

There are three important activities that you need to do next. First is to collect the resources and material required. For our goal of weight reduction, we should have a gym, or a treadmill or a playground or a cycle...Anything will do. The key is regular availability of the support resources. Also we should have a plan B in place. What will I do if my treadmill conks off? How will I continue my exercise program?

Next step is the process. This is very important. In case of our example of Shoe polish, the process was to apply a set of materials and follow the processes in a certain sequence. Do you think that the shoe would be polished however hard the guy polished with a soft brush without applying the polish and the cream? No way. The process, the application of materials and resources in a certain sequence is very important to attain the goal.

And finally, the measure. Like they say, what gets measured gets done. We should have a measure of progress in our goal achievement that we can check on a regular basis. The measure need not be checked frequently, like the lady who checks her weight everyday before and after using the treadmill. The key is, we should have a measure and we should check it regularly.

That is it. Follow the steps given above regularly and consistently and you can achieve any goal. Each and every step is important. Follow the above steps in the correct sequence and you can have the chiselled body that you always desired.


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