Sense, Think, Act, Repeat.
"Do not copy tools or frameworks from others. If you do that, you will not advance, nor make a difference. If you want to create something different, get inspired by how others, pioneers, do things differently. Experience it."
Why? I had just finished a leadership session with Nand Kishore Chaudhary (NKC), founder of Jaipur Rugs (one of India's largest manufacturers of hand-knotted rugs, with over 40,000 weavers).
NKC shared an experience with me. He said he tried to lose himself, to lose his own identity. I wondered: Why would any leader want do that?
NKC: "I always tell myself, ‘The biggest problem in my organization is me.’ I’m the problem. My old behaviour, my old perspectives, my old habits.
I’m driven by the unconscious, I'm always in autopilot mode. So, I'm enjoying things about how losing yourself can make the difference in your life.
Our body has so many experiences stored in it. But, how to bring them out? And, how to forget them? And, how to bring back the ones that gave gratitude back to life? And to the family? And to the business?
After some coaching, I can now empty myself. I became like a child again. Not an innocent or ignorant child, a wise child."
Later that afternoon I found Koldo talking about the significance of experiences.
He said: "Throughout life, many people go for concrete things. But concrete things will finish at some time. You need to experience things, and try to be aware of finding something that really fits you. That is what we call to feel, or to sense.
Do not expect to be able to use your experiences directly. Do not think that way. Try learning from experiences that touch your feelings, inside you, and which can help you to act in a different way, and to be happy."
Sense, think, act
To experience new things you need to be able to sense, to think, and to act, said Koldo. And this sensing, thinking and acting needs to be aligned.
He said: "If we do not sense, but just do. If we do not think, but just do. Or if somebody just does things for us—then something is not aligned.
This happens all the time in our personal life. We know there are things that our feelings, our heart, or our guts, are telling us. But what we are feeling is not aligned with what we are doing.
It is not aligned with what is happening, what we are contributing, or with the experience we are having. Then I feel nothing, I sense nothing. These things that happen to us, also happen in organizations, which are also alive."
Should we conclude we can only become one-of-a-kinds by learning how to sense, to think and to act?
Koldo said: "We do not use the terms sense, think and act just because they go well together, or because they are commonly used. It's something real. It was born in my guts decades ago.
That's the reason I've always run away from copying. Everything copied is temporary. Everything that is copied is not you."
Instead, I learned "you have to liberate yourself", as Koldo said, or "lose yourself", as NKC said, to start to feel again.