“I want him to realise his true potential…”

IMG_0028“I want Vasanth to realise his true potential”

I was with Vasanth and his boss. Vasanth’s boss believed that he wasn’t performing to potential.

After a few minutes the boss suggested that Vasanth and I have a conversation and left the room.

I could see Vasanth was not happy talking to me.

“Realising true potential is such a cliché. First, does he know what is my true potential? Then how does he make a statement like that?”

“Why did you not ask him that question?”

“Well, I don’t want to get into trouble. But tell me how will you find out what is my true potential? “

“What if we don’t worry about that? Let us talk about something else.”

“Like what?”

“Tell me what is happening in your life? As a professional, as an individual?”

“Nothing much. Life is running on an auto pilot.”

“So are you happy with it?

“Well what you can’t cure you must endure. Right?”

“Do you really believe that? You sound like you are not happy with what is happening.”

“I am not exactly unhappy. Nor am I ecstatic.”

“Why are you not ecstatic? What might make you ecstatic?”

“Because life is not fair. I was hired for a different job but I am currently doing the job of someone one level below. Every time I raise the issue I get this gyan about not realising potential. It is a whole load of you know what.”

“If you did not get what you were promised, why are you hanging around? You have a choice isn’t it?”

“Because we are the best in the industry and being here is in itself a big thing.”

“So you are not exactly in a hopeless situation.”

“Certainly not.”

“So what is bugging you? You are obviously unhappy with what is happening.”

“There are times I feel there is something I am not doing right. But I don’t know what it is. My wife thinks it is my arrogance. A ‘know all attitude’ which comes in the way.”

“What do your colleagues think?”

“The general feeling is that I am a bit of loner. I try to do everything myself.”

“Is that true?”

“Yes. I find that if I ask others to do something they take far too much time and finally the results are not satisfactory either.”

“Why does that happen?”

“Sometimes they lack the experience. It could be that they don’t know to ask for help.”

“Are these people who are reporting to you?”

“Yes three of them report to me.”

“Are they bright people?”

“Yes. IIT+IIM types.”

“So there is constant tension on this score?”

“Yes. They go over my head to get approvals because I am tough.”

“On the whole not a happy situation.”

“True.”

“How do you feel?”

“Frustrated. Stuck. I feel like I am driving a car with a brakes on.”

“That is an interesting expression. You are at the wheel, you are driving and the brakes are on?”

“Yes.”

“So what can you do to release the brakes?”

“There are many things I can do, but I think I will not be allowed to.”

“Who will not allow you to?”

“The system. The culture.”

“What about your boss?”

“He is probably the only person who can and will help.”

“Have you spoken to him?”

“No”

“Why not?”

“Well …I am not sure.”

“What is the worst that can happen if you tried? Will you lose your job?”

“Certainly not.”

“Then why aren’t you doing anything?”

“Maybe I lack the will, the motivation. Maybe I am tired, exhausted.”

“The question is: Do you want to do something? Or you don’t want to?”

“Actually I want to. I don’t know where to start.”

“What do you want to do?”

“I want to stop driving with my brakes on. I want to drive on the the 4th and 5th gear.”

“You sound so excited even thinking about it. What could driving on the 4th & 5th gear mean to you? What could releasing the brakes mean to you? How could life be different?”

“I would be able to do many things I have always wanted to. I can demonstrate the difference it can make to people and performance. I am currently not doing any of these. That is what is frustrating.”

“What is frustrating?”

“Not being able to do everything I can and want to do, is frustrating.”

“Who is else frustrated with this?”
“My boss… “

“What do you call driving at 4th & 5th gear without the brakes on?”

He looked at me and laughed. I joined him.

Any Thoughts?

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3 Responses to ““I want him to realise his true potential…””

  1. Pradip Shroff says:

    Conversation well handled. Series of open ended questions to take the discussions forward by helping see the real story. Pradip Shroff

  2. .BG Dwarakanath says:

    Very nice article and very well articulated.
    True in number of cases and sometimes the boss could be responsible for the situation.
    TFS.

  3. G. Inbavanan says:

    Dear Sridhar,

    Amazing conversation. You skilfully facilitated the Coachee to examine critically the various coloured lenses he was wearing and helped him to discard each one till he had none which enabled him to realise the true meaning of ‘leveraging one’s true potential’.

    Thanks for sharing.

    – Inba

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