Thursday, December 20, 2007

‘Attitude determines your altitude’

So says Maaney Paul, HR guide and motivational speaker, who has impacted hundreds of lives over the years through his talks

By Shevlin Sebastian

Maaney V. Paul, 48, strides confidently onto the stage at the Christu Jayanthi Public School in Kakkanad. He looks intently at the group of teachers sitting in front of him and says, “The predominant job of a teacher is not to teach. It is to make a child enjoy learning. You should create an ambience to learn. If a student likes his teacher, the chances of him drifting away from the subject are minimised.”

Paul says teachers should not differentiate between good or bad students. “But if you ask teachers whether they discriminate, they will deny this, but, unconsciously, they may be doing so. Children can sense it,” he says. “A bias is a programme which is running in your head without your knowledge.”

The teachers listen raptly, even though Paul speaks non-stop, and without visual aids, for more than an hour. The only time he pauses is when he sips a glass of water to clear his parched throat. His intensity can be gauged by the sheen, caused by perspiration, on his face, and the vigorousness in his voice.

Later, the vice-principal, Fr. Varghese Kachappilly, says, “All the teachers appreciated the talk. The difference between Paul’s talk and the others we have heard so far is that he offered a lot of practical tips. This will enable the staff to become better teachers.”

Paul has been a motivational speaker and HR guide for the past 13 years. He has conducted courses for companies like Wipro, Lovelock and Lewes, Toonz Animation, the Alliance Francaise, the Kerala Police, the Nirma University, Ahmedabad, the Rais Hassan Saadi Group in the UAE and the World Health Organisation. “I have had 500 clients so far,” he says.

“Paul has a great ability to teach, convince and motivate,” says Arun Kumar Sinha, 44, the Inspector-General of Police, Thiruvananthapuram Range. “What also impressed me was his sincerity and passion.”

Dr. M.V. Pylee, 88, former Vice-Chancellor of Cochin University of Science and Technology, says, “I recently attended a talk by Paul and he electrified the audience. He is a very able speaker.”

So, the question to this able speaker is simple: why do millions of people fail to achieve success in life? “It is because they have the wrong attitude,” he says. “These attitudes are instilled in childhood and we seem unable to change it.” Anything we do over a period of time becomes a behavioural pattern. And, most of the time, this pattern is negative.

He gives an example: a boss tells a group of people that he wants one of them to take the initiative and present a programme for an upcoming event. “The first response of most of the people is, ‘I don’t want to do it,’” even though each of them can do it,” he says. “The right attitude should be, ‘Let me try.’”

He tells about his own negative pattern. When he was invited to give his first speech during a Rotaract meeting at Thiruvananthapuram in 1992, he could not utter a single word. “I just froze when I saw 400 people in front of me,” he says. “I stepped off the dais feeling humiliated. That night, I decided that I would become a speaker.”

Paul says there are two sides to a human being: One is the conscious part, while the other is the unconscious or functional part. “If the unconscious has a negative attitude, then negative things tend to happen to you,” he says. “The only way out is to change your attitude.”

To change the attitude, you need to learn to control the mind. “There are exercises for this, like breathing techniques and meditation,” he says. “The moment you are able to change your attitude, you will become an unbelievably powerful person.”

He says that Indra Nooyi, 52, the CEO of Pepsico and Vikram Pandit, 50, the new CEO of Citigroup rose from a low level to the pinnacle of success. “Attitude determines your altitude,” says Paul. “If you have the wrong attitude, you get stuck at the bottom and are unable to grow.”

For many years, Paul, an academically poor student in Sainik School at Amravati Nagar in Tamil Nadu, was unable to grow. A Malayli, he was born in Coimbatore, where his father had an optical business. After graduating in economics from Coimbatore, he dabbled unsuccessfully for four years in various business activities before he threw it all up and went to Thiruvananthapuram in 1984 and began helping his brother in a furniture business.

At the same time, searching for a meaning in life, he began to do volunteer work at the Oolampara Mental Health Centre in Thiruvananthapuram. “It changed my life,” he says. “I found that I had plenty of things to thank God about. I changed my attitude, and soon, good things began happening in my life.”

Today, Paul, through his talks, has been being doing good things to hundreds of people and some of the feedback can be seen on his web site: The Aluva-based motivational speaker says, “We may not be able to change the world, but, through sincere effort and perseverance, we can change ourselves.”

(Permission to reproduce this article has to be obtained from The New Indian Express, Kochi)

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