The following is a dialogue from the movie ‘Speed’ staring Keanu Reeves. Harry and Jack are cops from the Los Angeles Police Department (L.A.P.D).
Harry to Jack: “Alright, pop quiz. Airport, gunman with a hostage. He’s using her for cover. He’s almost to a plane. You’re one hundred feet away.”
Jack to Harry: “Shoot the hostage. Take her out of the equation. Go for the good wound and he can’t get to the plane with her. Clear shot.”
This movie conversation had an enormous impact on me. They provided me with new spectacles to look at life. Ever since, the way I look at things, situations, people and myself have dramatically changed. Now my mental philosophy is, “Ok, the hostage is the issue. Take the hostage off the equation. Otherwise, what is the issue?”
Shruti has a complex because she is plump. She comes for counselling. Something I have learnt over the years, “If you don’t offer them solace, they aren’t ready for the solution.” So, after helping her to pour her emotions out, when I see in her eyes the permission for me to speak I ask her, “I do understand how much your obesity is affecting you. Otherwise, what else you don’t accept about yourself?” Shruti is quick to pounce, “Otherwise, why should I have any problem with myself. I am a state rank holder. I am the pride of my family. I reach out to the society. I teach children from the nearby slums. I only think good for everybody and do not carry any ill feelings towards anybody. Otherwise, what’s the issue? But my looks and the comments of others on my looks, truly, eats me away.”
“Shruti,” I clarify quoting the scene from Speed, “Take the hostage away from the equation. Everybody, in some way, is imperfect and this happens to be your imperfection. Enjoy your 99% and don’t let this 1% blind you. If you were perfect weight, won’t you think you are a darling? Then, even with this one imperfection, you are still a darling!”
I met Shruti six-months later in a shopping mall. For the first time I saw her in jeans and a kurti top. She needn’t say a word. I needn’t ask a word. I knew the hostage was off the equation. After all, otherwise, she had no other issue.
If otherwise there is no other issue, then actually, there is not much of an issue.
A piece of cotton, held close to the eye will cover the entire sun. Hold it at a distance and it is only a piece of cotton. So often you hold certain issues too close to your heart and it blinds you of everything else. Give the issue its rightful place and you will be able to see how blessed you are, otherwise.
Harold Abbott said:
I had the blues because I had no shoes,
Until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet.
Krishna and Radha have certain issues with their marriage. In a casual conversation I had with them, I realise Krishna’s mother is a connoisseur of cooking. Even to boil milk, Radha learnt it only after she got engaged to Krishna. Krishna’s belief is, “Stomach is the fastest way to a man’s heart.” I couldn’t help but ask Krishna, “Otherwise, how is Radha!”
“There is no question of otherwise. This is a major issue for me. I deem a woman incomplete, if she is not a good cook,” snarled Krishna. “Agreed Krishna. But just out of curiosity, otherwise how is she?” I insist.
Krishna’s smile Ctrl-Zs his earlier ugly expressions. He states, “I can’t complain about the way she cares for my parents. My parents feel they have found a daughter in her. She gives me my space. No unwanted interference. Though she is new to the family, she is in the frontend of any function at my home. My sex life too is satisfactory. Only my dinning table is my nightmare.”
I couldn’t resist but narrate the scene from Speed. I couldn’t resist but tell him the anecdote. It seems a man was searching for a perfect wife. Years rolled by, and he was still unmarried. One of his friends met him after five years and enquired, “You mean to say that you have not met a single perfect woman in these five years?” The man replied, “In fact, I met eight of them, but they were seeking a perfect man.”
I told him, “From whatever I have heard from you, otherwise, there is no other issue. Then there is not much of an issue. Imagine you had a wife who could cook even better than your mother but was a gone-case on all the other factors where you feel Radha is a sweetheart.”
10% of the relationship is a matter of concern and 90% of the relationship is better than the best. But how often we let that 10% blind us from seeing the other 90%. And if with 90% you are not satisfied in the relationship, even with 100% you will not be satisfied. Those who are not happy with what they have will not be happy no matter how much more they have.
You need Rs.two crores, which you don’t have, to import some machinery and you believe with that import, your production would be enhanced by 60%. It will make a difference to your market share. However, whenever you think of your expansion plans, the lack of Rs. two crores incapacitates your mind. You are not able to think any further.
This is how you go about it. First, take the hostage off the equation. Assuming you will get the Rs. two crores, what else is the issue? “No, except a few governmental clearances, nothing else is a major issue.” When you mingle the trivial issues with the major issues, everything appears to be a major issue. With the spectacles, “It is a problem,” everything appears to be a problem. Isolate the major issue from the rest. Now your intelligence will have the clarity to deal with the isolated issue. So often, ‘1 x 2 crores’ do not happen. But so often, ‘10 x 20 lakhs’ or ‘100 x 2 lakhs’ do happen. Haven’t we heard, with a lantern in hand, with enough light for just a step ahead, one step at a time, even the mountain can be scaled!
Even while selling or in any negotiation, whenever the prospect raises an objection, never start answering the objection till you have narrowed down on the objection. “Is this your only concern Mr.Prospect, or are there any other concerns?” Else you will yield to that one objection and then the prospect will raise another objection. This way it will eventually become a ‘You lose’ and ‘Prospect gains’ transaction. In fact, if the prospect confirms, “Otherwise there are no issues,” you can easily solve that one isolated concern and get the papers signed.
When your team explains why they think they cannot complete the project on time, much before you begin to motivate them, first isolate the causes and concerns. Take the hostage off the equation. Take it from them, “Otherwise there are no other issues.” Now lead them.
This approach of taking the hostage off the equation is of enormous help to you, as well as, to those you deal with. It gives a direction to the thought process. It ensures the issues are never overly crowned. It ensures trivial issues do not blind you from seeing major opportunities. Minuscule troubles should never cover up the mighty blessings.
Let problems come from anywhere. Let solutions come from me. How? I will first take the hostage off the equation. I will isolate the issue. I will then analyse, “Otherwise, what else is the issue.” If otherwise there are no other issues, then actually there is not much of an issue. After all, why should we avoid the express highway, just because there are few speed breakers in it?
Written by: Mahatria Ra