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Creating a Co-working Community

A black and white television, a typewriter and closed-door cabins; the one thing these three have in common is that they’re all outdated. Young India is all about latest gadgets, coolest apps and an unconventional way of thinking. It is not just one’s lifestyle; the Indian economy is also facing a substantial change in its structure, owing to the spike in start-ups. This start-up generation has also influenced the new working environment of co-working spaces. With the rising cost of the commercial estate, co-working spaces such as WeWork, Awfis Space Solutions, The Playce, Mumbai Coworking, Bombay Connect, The Hive, etc, come as a breath of relief to the ones high on passion and expertise but low on business capital.

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Branded co-working spaces have seen an impressive hike in 2017 with a 40%-50% increase in such facilities to reach a million square feet in India. These co-working spaces are expected to grow four-fold by 2020. The leasing model of co-working spaces allows a provider to rent out desks/conference rooms on an hourly basis. The low rates make it an easy option for startups trying to keep the operational costs low.
Source: mumbaicoworking.co

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Not just branded co-working spaces, multiple restaurants have also now started renting out space to professionals during the day with redeemable offers and a nominal fee. Starbucks has been providing it for a while now but other brands are catching up and with better-renting options too. These restaurants and cafes are also focusing on providing a semblance of privacy and personal space. Founders Tashi Dorjee and Robert Walker launched TwoSpace in Australia late last year with one simple goal: to make use of already available empty spaces. For instance, in India, the ‘Social’ circuit in Mumbai has enabled the millennial crowd to work where they chill and work while they chill too.

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Most of the Co-working spaces offer options of hot desk, dedicated desk or a team box for 5 to 50 people. The key lies in making a layout which is flexible and can be reconfigured based on the market demand.  Also, what really attracts startups and young entrepreneurs to a space such as this is the ample networking opportunities that it presents. Hence, the design needs to incorporate multiple collaborative and huddle spaces which would help in bringing people together. 

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With branded co-working spaces catering to a wide range of businesses across industries, it is imperative that a deeper understanding is applied to designing them. The generation that is driven by innovation & invention and demands a working environment that represents just that.

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My team and I have recently completed the latest Regus project & it was unique in its own way. With projects such as this, while the brief about the structure remains unchanged, there are multiple variables that no one can account for in advance. How a team reacts to these variables is what makes all the difference in the outcome. On this project, like most others, we were racing against time & it is only our disciplined approach that helped us deliver within time and beyond expectations.

 

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Evolution of Workspaces – Part 1

Architecture has been a crucial part and an indicator of the evolution of civilisations through time. If history is any proof, right from the start, architecture has remained well-woven with both, cultural and industrial growth in and around human life. This has also led to a monumental growth in workspace design.

Workspace design has the potential for exponential growth and advancement. And, while we’re celebrating new milestones in the field every day, it is important for us to look back and appreciate where it comes from and how tremendously it has grown. As a perpetual student of architecture, there are certain ancient architectural practices that caught my attention and interest, Roman architecture being one of them.

What intrigued me the most about ancient Roman architecture was its adaptable nature and how it catered to the requirements of a well-functioning workspace. It is no secret that Roman architecture was heavily inspired by the Greeks whom they regarded as their superiors in all visual arts. However, the Romans pursued a utilitarian approach in every piece of work. What made their creations stand out was their in-depth attention to practical applications of the buildings that were fortified by their flair for engineering and construction. Speaking of fortifying, it wasn’t just engineering that the Romans aced, innovation and invention favoured them as well. For instance, the Roman invention of concrete, in the 3rd century BCE encouraged architects to be bolder in their design. It didn’t just change the way buildings were designed then, but also helped expedite Rome’s role in inspiring engineering and architecture for centuries to come.

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The Romans built many commendable structures but the ‘Forum’ or more famously known as ‘Forum Romanum’ has the most significance for me and anyone trying to learn more about and bring dynamic innovation in workspace designs. The Forum was the centre of everything in Rome, probably the first ever co-working space the world has seen. It was a place for social gatherings, religious ceremonies, but more than anything it became the centre of trade in Rome. This open-space architecture that amalgamated the social, political and business needs of the people in ancient Rome is only ancient by its time of creation. The relevance of it is still evident as most offices that we see today follow the open-floor designs combining the practical needs of a business with the social needs of its team.

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When I think about the interiors of the Roman workspaces, the ‘Basilica’ immediately comes to mind. The large public building was utilised for all business and legal matters. A public basilica formed a part of settlements that were categorised as a city. There was a huge similarity between this and the medieval covered market houses of northern Europe; where the meeting rooms were set above the arcades to derive optimal utilisation of the urban space. Basilicas varied in forms but usually contained space-dividing interior colonnades providing aisles and arcaded spaces on both sides and an arch at one end. The surrounding sides were lower as compared to the wide aisle in the centre which allowed light to enter through the clerestory windows. The space optimisation techniques used in that era hold prominence even in today’s time with new startups and businesses growing faster than ever. The best contemporary example of this would be the growing co-working spaces that are expected to receive up to $400 million in investment and set to reach over 1 million sq. ft. of leased ‘alternative’ workspaces in India, by the end of 2018.
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While we may have just started adapting our work cultures to open and co-working spaces, there’s still a lot to explore, try and implement in this area. It will take time as all great things do but remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day either.

 

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An Outlier’s Route To Success

For a few years now, reading has become more than a hobby. Every time I find myself looking for inspiration, I turn to books and they never disappoint. One such book is Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers’, which over time, has become my annual read and manages to leave my belief in human potential strengthened every single time.

In this book, Gladwell emphasises on the factors that create success stories. According to Gladwell, one must never ask what successful people are like but where they’re from. He focuses on elements that are at the heart of transformations that turn ordinary individuals into ‘outliers.’ His theory highlights how the time, the place and the environment someone is born in impacts the individual’s chances of attaining success. He elaborates his claims with examples that include the journey of ‘Outliers’ such as Bill Gates, Bill Joy, The Beatles, and even top hockey stars. Gladwell’s research reveals that in the seventh grade, Bill Gates attended a private school where he was given almost unlimited access to programming on the newest type of computer available. By eighth grade, Bill Gates was spending his entire week learning to program on a system that was very costly, and at a time when computers were a rarity even on college campuses. According to Gladwell, if Gates wasn’t given access to this computer, he would still be smart but probably not one of the richest men in the world.

The other important aspect of this book is the 10,000-hour rule, now, this is what brings the book together. While the external factors play an imminent role in providing the right opportunities to the individual it is up to them to realise the potential and put in the hard work that could turn it into success. Gladwell advocates that it takes 10,000 hours of practice for anyone to master a skill & what these hours comprise of, determines the chances of success for them. For instance, between 1960-1964, The Beatles, one of the most famous bands in history, performed a total of 1200 shows which in total amounted to more than 10,000 hours. The Beatles had immense talent and ensuring they perfected their skills by putting in the maximum effort is what brought them success.

Quoting Gladwell, “Those three things — autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward — are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying. It is not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between nine and five. It’s whether our work fulfils us”. He further says, “I offered you a choice between being an architect for $75,000 a year and working in a tollbooth every day for the rest of your life for $100,000 a year, which would you take? I’m guessing the former, because there is complexity, autonomy, and a relationship between effort and reward in doing creative work, and that’s worth more to most of us than money.” The example stood out for me because of the point it brings forth and also because I can personally attest to how fulfilling my professional life as an architect is.

Being someone who believes hard work can take you a long way, I concur with Gladwell and believe that success is not an esoteric domain. Anyone can turn an opportunity into success given they recognize it at the right time and keep working towards achieving their goal. 15 years ago, when I started JTCPL Designs, I envisioned turning it into one of the top workspace design companies across the globe. Fast forward to today and we’re designing workspaces for some of the world’s biggest names & business houses across continents. This has only been possible because of the hard work and efforts of my team at JTCPL Designs and also because we were able to seize most opportunities that came our way.

Gladwell largely speaks of the effect someone’s time and place of birth can have on their chances of success. While those factors had valid applications back then, they certainly do not anymore. The lack of opportunities and the limitations on having access to them is going down rapidly every single day. There hasn’t been a better time to be one’s maximum self because unlike the yesteryears, this is the era of abundance. I believe, in this day and age, success is not exclusive to a select few and anyone who seeks it has the means to achieve it one way or another. And they can do so by bringing into practice my 5Ds of success: Dream, Dare, Discipline, Determine and Deliver (you can read more about it here).

‘Outliers’ has the power to change the way you perceive success as a destination, a result & show you the journey it truly is. I strongly recommend you give it a read.

 

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Launching 2018 with 5 Multiplier Strategies

2018 has begun on a positive note for JTCPL Designs and a lot of it has to do with the change that we implemented into the business over the last few years. Technology, innovation and a deeper understanding of the human mind are seeing advancements every day & we at JTCPL Designs can’t help but be inspired. So as we look forward to 2018, here are a few things that you can expect to see become a part of our legacy of workspace designs.

  1. Art & Graphics
    Delivering a successful project to one of the foremost global creative agencies early on gave us the added advantage of learning and adapting to the needs of the creative minds. A number of researchers around the globe have also proven its positive impact on productivity and overall health of the team. That’s why, while the workspace designs we create are highly functional we are consciously driven towards making art & graphics a mandatory inclusion in our workspace designs.
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  1. Greenscape
    Besides adding to the aesthetics of the office, planters can help reduce stress & increase creativity. They also help reduce health problems by providing cleaner air which in turn enables higher productivity. Dr. Chris Knight and his team have been studying the issue for 10 years, & have concluded that team members were 15% more productive when “lean” workplaces are filled with just a few houseplants, as team members who actively engage with their surroundings are better workers. We highly recommend this to all our clients as it is cost-effective and the positive outcome at team level benefits the overall business too.

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  1.  Acoustics
    In a workspace, communication is the key and that is why paying special attention to the acoustics in a work environment is a must. Julian Treasure, one of the most sought-after speakers, studies sound and advises businesses on how to best use it. I happened to witness one of his talks in which he mentioned how noise can affect co-workers in the workspace by making them less helpful, less collaborative and reducing their productivity. Sadly, a majority of the Indian market doesn’t pay any heed to the importance of incorporating acoustics in design as yet. JTCPL Designs hopes to change this scenario one project at a time.

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  1.  Engagement
    One of the major problems offices with huge structures face is the engagement within one team and multiple teams altogether. Intelligent workspace designs help enhance the benefits and cut down on the drawbacks of such offices. With our projects extending over 3 continents, the work culture and nature of different MNCs everywhere have motivated us into acquiring a deeper understanding and inculcating the practical application of modern technology in design. Different areas such as the meeting rooms, open workspace areas, and lounge areas all have stark differences in their functions and effects on the work culture. Hence, striking the right balance between them with regards to design and technology is what we aspire to achieve in our future projects.

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  1.  Leadership
    While physical modifications to workspaces can bring out a drastic difference in various aspects of the business, nothing affects it more than effective leadership. Leadership helps define and lay the groundwork for the work culture of any office. Interacting with leadership from the client’s end and incorporating their vision with ours has always borne fruitful results which is why we aim to continue this practice for all our future projects.

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 Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”, we agree and we’re just getting started.

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An ode to the Indian Masters

India as a country possesses a rich heritage of ancient and modern art and architecture. For decades both of these have been admired by experts and art lovers equally across the globe. Art and architecture aren’t too different, in fact I’ve always found one to inspire the other. So before the year ends, I thought of sharing with you my favourite Indian masters, the ones who inspire and leave me in awe with their magic on canvas.

  1. Vasudeo S. Gaitonde
    The Padma Shri award winning artist was regarded as one of India’s foremost abstract painters. Gaitonde was often known to give away his paintings as gifts for free, paintings that are now valued in millions. Humility combined with sincerity and genuine passion for art make him one of my all time favourite Indian masters.
    vasudeo_gaitonde-1                                                                  Source: www.rediff.com

    vasudeo_gaitonde-2                                                   Source: www.contemporaryindianart.com
  2. Jehangir Sabavala
    He was known as a talented artist and a charming gentleman. Having grown in a highly intellectual environment of Parsi aristocracy, he turned out to be one of the best trained and  accomplished painters of his generation. He was known to practise modernist style with a deep & classical influence. Sabavala’s attention to detail is what makes his work stand out.

    jehangir-sabavala-the-casuarina-line-i                                                                  Source: http://www.artnet.com

    Jehangir-Sabavala-Dark-Silhouettes-The-Moon-2003-Oil-on-Canvas                                                                  Source: blog.artsome.com

  3. Manjit Bawa
    Majit took inspiration from people, nature and life around him. He was known for his vibrant paintings as well as his love of spirituality, and particularly of Sufi philosophy. Most of his paintings reflect the universal themes of hope, compassion, love and peace. Manjit Bawa’s work mirrored the honesty in his pursuit and that struck with me the most.manjit bawa 1                                                                 Source: www.artsy.com
  4. S.H. Raza
    Raza was one of India’s most prominent artists and his work deserved all the attention it received. His paintings evolved from fluent watercolors of landscapes and townscapes to a more expressive language, painting landscapes of the mind. His work is a treat to the eyes and mind, inspiring with every brush stroke. I recently visited the newly launched Louvre in Abu Dhabi and as an Indian, as someone who appreciates art, I felt extremely proud to find S.H. Raza’s ‘Bindu’ being featured amongst Picasso, Monet, Mondrian, Gauguin, Kandinsky and Matisse.
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  1. Artisera_Fine-Art_Limited-edition-prints_SH-Raza_Punaraagman_1_large                                                               Source: shopify.com
  2. 5. Jogen Chowdhary
    Jogen Chowdhary has been considered as an eminent and influential painter of the 21st century. He not only has incomparable paintings credited to his name, but also has written extensively about contemporary art. Chowdhary has also made immense contribution towards inspiring young artists.

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All of the above mentioned masters are my favourite artists and the one common virtue they share is honesty. Honesty towards the pursuit of their artform without succumbing to the distractions that fame often brings. Their work often transcends into my approach towards the projects that we work on at JTCPL Designs and they’ve only helped derive better results.

Have you come across artists who have inspired you in anyway? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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The world belongs to those who read

Rick Holland’s profound words stand true now more than ever. The times are only moving forward and faster & having the wealth of knowledge helps one remain in step with the world. It is safe to say that the practical application of the knowledge I’ve acquired with experience and through books has enabled me to stay a step ahead and achieve greater milestones.
As the year comes to an end, I encourage everyone to use their time the best possible way. On that note, here are 5 books from my current library that remain at the top of my favourite reads of all time:

Abundance by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler
We at JTCPL Designs practice optimism on every level and this book helped back my belief with facts and reasoning. The quote, “Abundance is not about providing everyone on this planet with a life of luxury – rather it’s about providing all with a life of possibility” covers the essence of the book very well. It is the chance of growth that inspires a person to crossover the thresholds of their limits. The takeaway – ‘The future is better than you think’ is enough to reinforce optimism into whoever looks forward to bringing a change into their lives in the coming year.

Bold by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler
This writer duo has managed to create a gem of a book in the form of ‘Bold’. The entire premise that revolves around ‘How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World’ is as positive as a read gets, with an interesting entrepreneurial spin to it. Honestly, this book has inspired me in ways I hadn’t expected it to and I highly recommend it to all entrepreneurs and young students or anyone looking to bring some drastic, bold transformations in your life.

Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Fountainhead is without a doubt one of the best books I have ever read. The entire plot is based on individualism versus collectivism & Ayn Rand manages to portray it so beautifully. The book makes you realize that a man can achieve any level of greatness that he sets his will to and the lead character, Howard Roark left me challenging my view on various aspects of my life at that point. A must read for all! One learning from the book that has stayed with me after all these years is that “Integrity is the ability to stand by an idea.”

The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
Intelligent Investor is every investor’s bible & as time passes, his principles become more and more relevant. Benjamin Graham highlights the importance of patience, discipline and an eagerness to learn while making investment decisions, principles that apply to every person striving towards exponentially growing his business. He also says, “All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare” and anyone who has ever overcome an arduous challenge knows how true these words are.

The Success Principles by Jack Canfield
This book essentially talks about taking 100% responsibility for everything that one experiences in life and moving forward from there. Canfield fundamentals include, “You Need Goals that Stretch You”, and it’s the one that I connect with the most. The book also touches upon how everything one thinks and does need to be aligned with the highest purpose to achieve goals that one sets. The Success Principles have a universal appeal & if there’s one book that you shouldn’t be leaving out of your reading list, it’s this.

These books have laid the foundation of many integral principles that I strongly believe in and practise on both fronts, personal and professional. I hope you will give them a chance to change your lives just as they did mine and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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Success Equals Constant Progress For The Marathon Called Entrepreneurship

Humans have the potential to be anything they want, becoming stagnant should never be an option. Thankfully my third consecutive Airtel Delhi Half Marathon was definitely not that. I had pushed myself to go beyond my limits and the result was empowering to say the least. The experience was as exhilarating as the ones I’ve had in the past and the run itself was challenging but very gratifying. After you’ve climbed up the ladder for long distance running to a reasonable ability, extracting even a smidgen of improvement in your performance becomes exponentially tougher. Which is why I was thrilled when I cut down two and a half minutes from my previous time. I clocked 1h 44m 01s, my best performance till date. God is Kind!

For me, every triumph is followed by gratitude for all that led me towards achieving what I set out to. In this case, I felt thankful for having a support system that enabled me to put in my time and energy into the marathon. Incidentally Bisleri was one of the sponsors for the marathon & having recently bagged the interior design and build assignment for Bisleri Towers just added on to the gratitude. For the longest time, I have used the Bisleri 250ml bottle for my practice runs. I couldn’t help but smile & feel grateful looking at that little bottle of Bisleri in my hand as it kept me going throughout the race.

Marathons can sometimes turn into networking events for some. But it was amazing to see a lot of people show up, all set to push their boundaries. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I believe there’s no limit on human potential & progress comes naturally when people truly believe in reaching beyond. It is for such individuals who understand the importance of growth that Dan Sullivan’s ideology of seeking progress over perfection comes in play. What this ideology indicates is that perfection is like a horizon, it’s a mental construct that can never be physically reached. Progress on the other hand lets you set the parameters to measure your growth and advancement.

This stands true for my experience with marathons & has also helped me through my journey with JTCPL Designs. Even as a startup, we didn’t just work towards making profits but aimed at progress in our processes, the quality of work and in expanding our capabilities as a team of individuals. I remember an interview where Messi was quoted saying, “It took me 17 years and 114 days to be an overnight success” and I couldn’t agree more. Success shouldn’t be something you dream of, but something you work hard towards.

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Human Potential: Optimism

Right from the moment I took up the HDFC Ergo project, I knew it would be a challenge. The client had envisioned a full-fledged office when they brought the JTCPL Designs team on board and the deadline set would seem challenging even for a regular project. However, this one had an added difficulty with the site previously being a gaming zone on a recently decommissioned mall floor plate. The one ingredient that kept me going was optimism, which was only strengthened by the client’s and my team’s faith in me. 

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Optimism, generally, is considered as a mental attitude – a happy belief that the outcome of some specific endeavor, or outcomes in general, will be good. Optimism doesn’t play a bigger role than when we are facing an uphill task. No matter which field or background you belong to, whether you’re the CEO of an MNC or a student in college. Optimism benefits everyone and almost every situation; it is like a positive force field that quietly does its work and keeps you going even when you thought you couldn’t.

 

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In the context of architecture, optimism becomes imperative as even a minor miscalculation could lead to unimaginable loss to the client and/or the team. Having the mind of an optimist helps one to better awareness which leads to better choices, and therefore to better end results.

 

Optimists and pessimists approach situations differently with their varying ability to cope with challenges. However, there are a lot of pessimists who call themselves realists which is why, the concept of optimism becomes so important in today’s day and world.

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In general, I feel, India as a country believes in positivity because of our faith in karmic justice. It becomes very important for leaders to understand, what they practice is often projected onto their team. Leading a team with values such as optimism helps boost the entire team’s perspective towards taking up bigger challenges and expanding horizons to set and surpass benchmarks.

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Just like concrete & steel come together to fortify structures, determination and an optimistic approach can strengthen the infrastructure of your life.

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Leap of Faith

“To be trusted is a great compliment”. – George MacDonald

All projects begin with a vision. It is this vision that is the first step towards the bigger picture eventually leading to success. Today, clients are willing to invest significant trust in the architect who can nurture a vision from conception to completion. In my opinion, this action falls into four broad categories: championing the vision; listening and understanding; engaging and finally, delivering. Perhaps what makes a career in construction so special, be it in design or delivery, is the final product. Unlike other vocations, architecture is a piece-by-piece venture in which clients have huge sums of money at stake and little recourse or control.

It is when they decide to take a leap of faith and give you a free hand using your talents to interpret.  This sets course to improve the relationship between architects and clients. One of the reasons I believe that our Brookfield project hit the right note is because of the faith the client entrusted in us.

We had the privilege of developing Brookfield’s third and most ambitious office project in the country. It was possible to go the extra mile as we considered ourselves a part of the team. In retrospect, the project manifested impeccably because of the trust the client showed. It’s working with clients like these who help you push your boundaries. They exhibited indefinable faith in our vision, creativity and problem-solving abilities.

When your client sees the spark and you stretch your potential to live up to their expectations, it not only gives you satisfaction but also helps you tap your potential and surpass it. Your own fulfillment is greater than success because it is a measure decided by you. It is this abundance of trust that makes every journey easy and keeps us going forward. Setting a mark with every project and surpassing it hones your skills as a creator.

Winding it up, I live by the idea that delight in the job puts excellence in the work.

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​Unlocking Human Potential

Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”

This Confucius quote has remained relevant for over two thousand years. However, within the last decade, this thought has gone from being good advice to a commandment. Given the unprecedented pace of change for both individuals and businesses, I can gauge a sense of uncertainty in people with regards to using their potential to the fullest.

From my experience with my clients and other individuals, it will be safe to say that most humans have got what it takes to make it big because human potential is beyond measure and can be honed with time and training.  For instance, Olympic athletes continue to break their own records year after year through sheer dedication and hard work.

During this time of constant change, it is crucial that one finds their true potential. Based on my exposure to some of my clients, I wish to share a series of blogs that highlight my thoughts on making the most of one’s potential that resides within them.

The big challenge is becoming all that you have the possibility of becoming. We will never know our full potential unless we push ourselves to find it. Not just our strength and intelligence but it’s our continuous effort that tends to be the key to unlock our true potential. In more than a few cases, my clients have shown greater faith in my capabilities and this has only pushed me to learn to expand my potential. This helped me discover the importance of learning.

LIFELONG LEARNING:

As individuals, any challenge can be daunting. Even until a decade ago, a degree or an education could last a whole career for an individual. However, with the changing times, abilities like creativity and empathy have gradually become more important while the relevance of the ability to “know” it all has diminished. Therefore, it is safe to say that the coming generation will have to take lifelong learning seriously while constantly upgrading their skills.

INTEGRATED LEARNING:

Individuals not only gain knowledge and learn new skills to apply in their area of expertise but also create insight and implement their newly-learned skills to other possible areas of utility. While focusing on mastering your existing knowledge is a good idea, it is far more prone to falling short in helping you navigate through the changing world.

The good thing is that people are now realizing the need to learn and adapt to new things. For example, Deloitte, a giant consulting firm focused on the hard-nosed aspects of business, have created a learning practice called the Center of the Edge, which focuses on providing insight to maximize human potential.

In the above article, I came across an interesting theory of roots and shoots. The concept highlights our practices that are out of balance and directs towards places we need to invest in.  By going through cycles of learning and unlearning, an individual can discover his or her purpose as well as passion. Taking time to reconnect to our core values is critical. These practices that connect the roots provide a more strengthening foundation. Adopting practices help us take on new perspectives and envision the things that fail to deliver. As we see our learning accelerating, we become more committed and devoted to our passion.

In hindsight, whenever I have ventured out of my comfort zone and tried my hands on something new, it has only helped me learn a new skill that has benefited me in the longer run for a larger goal.

There is no limit to an individual’s potential. In order to expand the range of skills, I have realised over time that, if there is a passion to succeed one can begin with implementing these newly-acquired skills in their day-to-day lives.

Having practised this theory in my own life, professionally as well as while pursuing my passion for long distance running – it has always proven advantageous.