“Bringing external change is ordinary; Bringing inner transformation is eXtraOrdinary.” – Naveen Lakkur
We are very well aware that ‘change is constant’, yet we resist change. Also the data shows that the majority of the companies have collapsed because they were either unable to see or adapt to the change happening outside. Then you can imagine it takes a lot more effort to bring change. It is quite natural to ‘look-out’ for external aspects for us to bring change and we might be willing to travel thousands of miles to bring the change. On the other hand if we can be a Little Extra™ and willing to ‘look-in’, we might have extraordinary results.
This reminds me of an instance when my guru asked, “Why would people want to travel thousands of miles to different countries seeking happiness, they only have to travel two inches inside to find happiness”. Many lessons to be learned from it, including:
- Change is not permanent, while transformation is.
- External change is more hard-work; Internal change is smart-work.
- Dependencies are higher to bring external change whereas more commitment is required for internal transformation.
He also said, “When you learn to look inside, you will not be the same person anymore. Your inner transformation begins…”
Story 1 – Rebuilding a nation
This was sometime back just after the 2nd World War when two Japanese students studying in London were taking turns to sharpen their pencil while the other would be busy writing notes during their classes. Their classmates asked them why would you not buy a good quality pencil that is available for much affordable price here in London than using these low-quality pencils from Japan.
Then, one of the Japanese boys responded with a tear rolling down his eyes, “Our country is devastated during this World War and our countrymen are broke.”
They were committed to rebuilding their lives and the country, they were all working a Little Extra time without expecting any extra returns. This is just a little extra they could do as students coming from that country and they grew up in a country where their products one day would be known for quality.
The rest is history. Japan utilized the crisis that it had to go through and not only did they bring about the external changes which were required but they also utilized the opportunity to rebuild the nation with internalizing the human values, bringing inner transformation only to later become synonyms to quality.
Story 2 – Building Immunity Internally and Externally
When the COVID pandemic started in Wuhan, people thought it was happening locally and was getting contained even though the world saw some disturbing videos. When it invaded every country, nobody had anticipated the impact it would have on life and the economy.
The disease spread due to external factors like hygiene and the proximity of the people. A solution for that, even as a strategy, to contain the spread, everybody had to start to look internal, starting from staying at home, maintaining social distance, and building immunity.
Building immunity would have to start internally and externally. Externally from cleanliness at the physical level and at the social level with social distancing and quarantines, etc. Internally, the cells of the body should also learn to fight. For that, building immunity is the answer.
Besides this, COVID-19 became a phenomenal change catalyst. Everybody in the world started looking internally. Internal to even your own country, your city, villages, homes, and your own self. Then every individual started looking inside their body. This brought transformation with the way we are thinking, the way we are living, the way we conduct ourselves.
COVID-19 had to come and teach us about contemplation and how we re-imagine and re-prioritize. It reminded us that ‘Health is an important form of Wealth’. It also taught us that it is not the material things that we must have in plenty. Some people used the lockdown to start bonding, be together with family, and also care for their fellow humans. Some of them even did a Little Extra like going out to help needy people. This is actually a phenomenal transformation.
COVID-19 has proved to be an extraordinary change catalyst. Every country, all the politicians irrespective of the party they belong to and as policymakers have worked very hard dealing with the challenge that COVID-19 has posed. They are bringing external changes required and also bringing new internal policies. It’s an extraordinary challenge, extraordinary times with an extraordinary task to accomplish.
One example is Taiwan for ‘a Little Extra‘ effort at the right time in the right way has helped the country stopping the spread of the disease in Taiwan. Thousands of people travel between Taiwan and China. Health officials took action early, screened for sick passengers while they were still inside aircraft.
Travelers to Taiwan have to fill in a form, answering a few questions. They even integrated electronic patient files to immigration records, following up with those at risk based on travel history. People who were at risk got a text message to self-isolate and asking them to go for a check-up. People who did not comply were fined. They made the mask a must-wear for everyone. The manufacture of the mask was taken over by the Taiwanese military.
People who self-isolated got visits from authorities who came to check on their welfare. They were also given essential supplies. Social distancing became the norm. Today there are less than 40 infected individuals. Watch the video. A case of not only bringing external change but also inner transformation.
Story 3 – How Tata Group Grew
When there is an external challenge or market changes, the corporate world needs to respond. It is usually the external changes that the organization brings is what is visible, the corporates respond to the external pressures. It is actually the realization that also bringing inner change for the external pressures is what gets them to the next level. The internal strategy, the internal change in the structure, and the model is what transforms organizations and get them to the next level.
For example, Tata Steel was at one time the biggest company in the portfolio of the Tata Group. At one time they were also known for mining. When people talked about Tata, it meant steel. That was the way it was advertised too. Tata’s steel division was what people recalled. Besides, Tata Steel was the leader in the group. Jamshedpur, the city that housed steelworkers came up because the steel division grew. Other businesses like Tata Motors, retail, and books came much later.
Tata got into other businesses because of external changes happening around them. External conditions change the markets. And hence the organization also had to change. During the last two decades, technology was coming to the forefront and was getting into everything and every field.
The Tata group started Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), which is their software consulting business. Today, amongst all the companies, TCS is the biggest, most valuable and truly creating global impact. If they had not transformed internally due to external changes, they would have been a victim of the market changes.
Knowing that the external change is going to happen, companies that put in a Little Extra effort to recognize the change, bringing the required external changes and also bringing changes internally to match the market dynamics, equip to seize the opportunities will experience the transformation.