I enrolled my kid into a skating class last month and she has so far been having a good time learning to skate. After watching her enjoy the skating I finally braved myself to enroll into the classes. For me, it has so far mostly been a painful process but with a lot of learning and unlearning. For the unlearning part, skating is not as easy as the movies show. Every fall is painful…believe me. As for the learning part, other than the skating itself, I found an unexpected learning subject through the skating lessons – Management.
Here are my 5 skating lessons (and my management learning's through them) -
1) Lesson 1 - Everything is not about health (or Money) – The first question my friends asked me was if skating is a good exercise and if it will help them lose weight. I had no clue. So I told my friends to think skating as entertainment rather than as exercise. If watching TV or even sleeping can burn calories, maybe skating burns calories too. Like in Management, money should not be the only expectation. Learning, and the satisfaction of building something is also equally important.
2) Lesson 2 - Skating (and Management) is all about flair, and grace – Both Skating and Management start with struggle. Struggle to be brave, to learn, to keep inline. But once you move up, it’s all about achieving the balance and maintaining the balance as you move ahead. It’s how gracefully you skate (or Manage) and go along with others.
3) Lesson 3 - Know who does what in the system – In skating, the head thinks (see, processes…) while the upper body helps a bit in turning but mostly sweats. It’s the hip which guides and controls and takes the hit when you fall, while the legs do the skating.
In Management too, the head thinks (sees, talks, plans….) while the upper management mostly talks and sweats for nothing. It’s the middle management which does all the steering and balancing taking blame as well, while the worker takes direction. Remember, the salary structure follows a descending pattern from the head down. Look closely and you will notice the sour spot (or sweet spot; depending on how you look at it) - Upper management - High salary, all talk and sweat for nothing. Know those sour/sweet traps as you choose your career.
4) Lesson 4 - Watch and learn but don’t get overexcited – The most important part of skating, in my opinion, is to watch and learn. Watching others skate teaches you a lot of tricks because not everything is in the books. But look out for the trap. Skating looks easy when you see those kids skate. It’s the same in management too. Don’t get excited when you see people reach plum posts or when your friends race ahead. Remember, everyone has a different skill. Believe in your skills. You work on your plan at your pace.
5) Lesson 5 - If you fall, fall with grace. But it’s important to remember, not all fall is because of you – An important lesson in skating is how to stop or slow down and how to fall. If you cannot avoid a fall, you are asked to bend your knees and fall back on your hips (butt) with hands up. Avoid falling on knees or landing on your hands. In simple words; fall with grace! Management too is similar. Use your head wisely and balance delicately to avoid a fall. But if you cannot avoid a fall, fall with grace; and try to be up and running quickly.
The most important of the fall lessons I learnt, is that not all fall is because of you. In one of the class, I fell 3 times at the same spot for the same reason. The first two times, I felt it’s because of my lack of skill. But when I fell the 3rd time (I hurt myself really bad) the coach asked me to step out of the ring to check my skate. Seems the wheels on my right leg were tight compared to my left leg. So this made my left skate go faster than my right skate leading me to the fall. In management too, even if you are doing fine, you might fall because of market forces or external changes. So don’t always blame yourself. Learn to fall with grace and get back on feet quickly.
~Narendra V Joshi