Life Lessons “We Learn More From Failure Than Success” – Rajiv Sharma


Since he came to Nigeria in 2006, Rajiv Sharma, a Licensed Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Coach, has been in the business of helping celebrities, actors, sportsmen, singers and high net worth individuals/organistaions employ their innate powers and intelligence to achieve new and better results. Sharma, an Indian, who has worked with clients in over 45 countries, says that when the correct elements are activated inside an individual, there is so much he or she can make happen. You will also enjoy his life lessons.

Lesson 1: Begin with the Purpose

Most people don’t realise that they live their life in auto pilot mode. It is important to start with the picture in your mind. Imagine the picture of the result you want to achieve. Once you can see the picture and take mindful actions there is a higher possibility of being able to turn that picture into reality. That picture keeps you focused on results. Results, not efforts, matter. I do this on a daily bases. I learnt that some time back when I started learning Neuro Linguistic Programming.

When I started my career in 1990 I had difficulty getting job after my management degree. I kept giving my CV and kept rejecting jobs because I wanted to be a manager. But I got frustrated, the pressure was so much. So I took a job as a salesman, which was not by choice; it was just because there was nothing else. For the first six months, since I never wanted to be a salesman, I kept circulating my CV in other places.
In January 1991, my first boss called me and gave me a sack letter which interestingly, changed my life. I said to him, you can’t sack me I am a first class management graduate. He looked at me and asked me, ‘how many cars have you sold?’ I said I hadn’t sold any. He said ‘we are not hiring MBAs we want you to sell cars. He told me I had one month notice to sell cars or to get out. I had sleepless nights. What I did was to locate the best four sales persons in the company, attach myself to them and I picked the best of their sales strategies and started to apply them. By December 1991, I was the best salesman in the company, I had sold 1000 cars. I created a picture of the result I wanted and focused on making it happen. It works.

Lesson 2: We learn more from failure than from success
I once owned a big company back in India. It was worth close to N400 million in 1995/96. I trusted some people and I allowed them to run the company. I was managing the company myself, but since it was a large company, you can’t be everywhere. So I trusted them, they were handling some portfolios independently but along the line two of the individuals decided to play game with the company which eventually cost me everything. I lost the company and all my investment in it. I became wiser after that mistake. I learnt how to judge people more effectively. What I have learnt is that money can go away from you but the knowledge you have acquired, the wisdom you have, nobody can take that away from you. So I created something similar in much easier way.
I have no regrets making those mistakes because I learnt a lot of lessons from them. I have not forgotten the mistakes; otherwise I will not learn anything from them. But I have forgiven those people. If you don’t remember your mistakes, you tend to make those mistakes again.

Lessons 3: Make Intentional Choices

Everything that happens to us in life is a result of our choices. We choose to go to the gym or not, to hit the snooze button or get up as we hear the first alarm. This applies to every sphere of life. The choices you are making today will impact your life tomorrow. In 1991, I didn’t get my first job by choice; I got into the job by default. When I had become the best sales person in my company, I wanted to stay there, but the company felt they could get the best out of me by putting me in the training department so that I could train more people to be good sales persons. I didn’t like it because I was making more money in the field, there is no commission in the training school. But I went to my bosses and told them that I needed to be having field experiences which I would bring back to the classroom, I sold that to them and they agreed. They gave me five days in class and 15 days in the field. That was when I started making choices. You have to be intentional in your choices

Lessons 4: Respond; don’t react to situations

When I came to Nigeria, our office was in Surulere, very close to where you had a couple of miscreants (area boys). The area boys used to come weekly to collect their money (for ‘protecting us’), one day when they came to collect, I told them no, we can’t be giving them money like that. I met with them, it was a difficult conversation, but I told them, ‘if you need anything in kind, we can give you but if you need cash I won’t give.’ I told them if I give them cash, they would use it to smoke. They said it was none of my business, I said it was my business because it was my money I decided how it would be spent.
The guys left. In the evening when I closed, they came looking for me they wanted to surround me and talk to me in tough language. They were thinking that I would be running away from them. When I got outside the office, I actually moved towards them and I said, ‘what are you guys doing here? Let’s go and have some soft drinks. I took them to a soft drinks seller around the place. They were disarmed. What can you do with somebody giving you soft drinks?
But they said ‘oga, but you should give us money.’ I told them I don’t work like that, you are my friends, we can teach you something, but we will not just give you money. At the end of the day we became friends.
If I had not managed that experience well, I would have got myself into trouble.
This was one of the fantastic experiences where I turned a bad experience into a good experience. So how you respond to a situation can turn it into a good or bad experience.
Negative experiences are not bad, what you need to do is to reflect back and say, ‘what could I have done better in this situation?

Lesson 5: Improve Your Connection with the World

What connect us to the world are our senses. And we were never trained to use our senses well. No one taught us how to see beyond the obvious, learn to hear what is not being said. There is no manual for how to operate your senses.
The basic difference between a successful person and not so successful person is the way they use their senses.
People talk of relationship, of networking, don’t go after relationship and networking, and improve your connection. People we network with, what do they do with that network after? Connection is the key thing, not networking. Move that meeting to the next level, think of how you can be of value to that contact, how you can be valuable to him. When you are offering value, the person will cancel other appointments to meet you.
Chances are you cancel other appointments to meet others or others cancel their appointments to meet you. It now depends on who is offering the value.

Lesson 6: Care for People

I take it as an ultimate responsibility to care for people. To me people matter in life, human is a wonderful and most amazing creation in the world. The people may be your family, your friends or colleagues in office. Care for them and their prosperity and growth. And when we care for people, we need to work with them to create a better tomorrow and higher life.
My biggest lesson of life is to create effective, long-term relationships with mutual respect and win-win mind-set.
That I care for people doesn’t mean I just flatter them, no. What I mean is that I develop them for better results. Even if I have to punish the person I would do it, but the punishment is not out of hatred but love and care so that the person will become a better person.
When I was selling cars, I cared for my sales people even though I sacked many of them. There was this guy I sacked because he was performing as a sales person. When I sacked him he went to open a restaurant, now he has a chain of restaurants. Whenever I am in India, he hosts me, he says ‘look, this is the man who sacked me and he made my life, otherwise I would have been doing that lousy job.’

Lessons 7: Walk Your Talk

When you say something do it. Don’t just say it to please people around or make impressions. Once you start taking actions aligned to your dialogue, results won’t come over night. Once you sow the seed, you have to nurture the crop to get a full harvest and it takes time to get results. So consistently walk your talk.
For me, I take actions and when those actions have given me results, I then bring them into my talk. So first I work then I share my experiences with you. ‘If you do this, you get this kind of result.’ It makes you more meaningful and more relevant to companies because you are not a preacher, you are not a speaker, you are a manager who has passed through that situation. I have a personal experience with a well-known conglomerate group we work for in Nigeria. When we started that work, during our coaching sessions, they asked various questions many of which were just basic. After working with them for two and a half years, the level has really gone up, they now ask more intelligent questions because their thinking has gone higher.

Neuro Linguistic Programming by Richard Bandler
My Experiments with Truth by M.K. Gandhi
The 7 Habits of Highly Effectively People by Stephen Covey

Not starting the NLP earlier. I should have started this much earlier, I started this quite late. I became an NLP practitioner in 2006 but I became a licensed coach in 2014. So I should have started this earlier. But better be late than never.
What Keeps Me Awake:
When I think of all the miracles around, when I imagine the new future. The innovations that will make this planet a much better place. How I am going to participate and contribute for the next level, to leave a legacy for generations to come.