This is a follow up to Akshay’s Blog last week, which prompted me to write my views on the points that he had brought up. As I told him in chat, this blog deserves a blog, not a comment. So here goes:
Making Room for Other People’s Opinions:
- This is a very valuable learning in life. Right from childhood, we are educated to have a mind of our own. Along with the mind, we end up having an ‘ego’ of our own as well (buy one get one free!!) the more mind we have (which means more thinking power.. u know thinking of who!).. more the ego. And as you would know, ego is not always a bad thing. Ego is the root to all confidence and if we are not confident, it’s not easy to succeed at anything. The more we succeed, the more we give the credit to our ego and the line of thinking that lead to the success.
- Its very important to experience failure in life. Because we learn 10x or sometimes 100x more from failure than success. Many times, success can be attributed to sheer luck. But rarely would anyone give the credit to lady luck.
- In case we are not experiencing failure, then its important to get candid feedback from someone who can regularly, in career and life, tell us how we are doing (someone who need not see our report card, he will judge from our body language and our demeanour itself). Yes, the right word for this person is a mentor.
- My ‘deja-vu’ experience like Akshay happened in 2004-05, when, after 5 years as an IC (individual contributor) in sales, I had had spectacular success and I was promoted as a manager and had someone reporting into me. And I was a disaster as a manager. No, not from a sales number perspective, but from 1:1 relationship perspective. I was hell bent on making the team member a Hetal, when he was clear on wanting to just become a ‘better Dinesh‘ under my leadership and not ‘another Hetal‘. After four frustrating months, I reached out my mentor, wrote him a brief email explaining my problem. His reply was a blank email with a HBR article enclosed. I read the article and realised my mistake : I was totally wrong in trying to convert Dinesh into Hetal and my eyes opened after reading that article. That learning has stayed with me since.
- In summary, it’s not about ‘making’ room. It’s about ‘having’ room. Getting candid feedback should be a regular quarterly exercise at work and even at home. As your spouse or children, if they observed any changes in you, any good habits you have picked up, any bad habits you have dropped, or even vice-versa 😉 (latter might mean u end up with you lighter pocket and a heavier heart!).
Becoming a Better Listener:
- So on the topic of listening, I don’t think I need to say much, as I wrote a blog last week on it. I think that’s a important skill and now every member of os.me has ‘listener’ included in their profile !! Just kidding.
- But my observation is on the family situation which Akshay bhai has shared so candidly. Isn’t this more like a ghar-ghar ki kahani?? Starting with the mother who says that ‘bride’s father only cries at the time of the ‘vidai’, but the groom’s mother cries lifelong after that, as her ‘raj dulara beta’ prioritises the wishes of his wife over his Mom’. Especially in joint families and instances where the husband’s parents come over to stay with their son, this problem happens most of the time!
- But I believe, it’s more about being a better ‘observer’ than a better ‘listener’. Many times, the most obvious cues of what is going wrong, are very apparent in body language, gestures and most importantly, in the ‘killer silence‘.
- Observing is something Dad used to emphasise upon a lot. He used to say that you can be mislead by what you see or hear, but you can never go wrong on what you minutely observe. This holds true especially among children and elders in the family. The elders don’t say things because they have given up hopes of being heard and the children don’t speak they don’t know the right words to express. But if you observe, you would easily catch those instances when Dad refuses to look up from the newspaper as you enter the room or when the kid is stuck on the same page of a book for a long time.
Helping with Chores at Home:
- Here, Akshay stole my thunder, partially. I have an unfinished post titled ‘Atmanirbhar Quotient’ where I talk about the real atmanirbharta which Mr Modi is expecting from the country, has to come from us as individuals in our own house. And that’s a combination of how the upper class people are getting more and more fancy gadgets and relying on the app and web ecosystem; the middle class would look at optimisation of effort and resources to do without the support ecosystem.
- But yeah, its once in lifetime opportunity to take up several tasks in the house and question as to why we rely upon a maid to do them, and why we cannot incorporate them in the our routine as well.
- Of course, things get difficult when you are not working from home and catching the 8:15 ki local becomes a matter of life-and-death for you, but one can surely make the changes subtly, over a period of time, if not all at once.
The Constant Battle With Laziness:
- This is again a very interesting topic. When we were studying inertia in physics at school, little did we know that a word so inane and lame like ‘inane’ will be the bane of growth and development for millions of people.
- It’s interesting to marvel at God’s creation. When he created humans, he made sure to provide us limbs to do scores of actions and tasks. He provided brain to think of so many smart things to do. But then he created something called ‘inertia’, where the tendency to remain in state of ‘rest’ super-cedes any thought that requires ‘action’.
- I remember the instance when I had not shaved for a 3-4 days and my Dad asked me why. Being lock-down, stuck at home with no major incentive to shave, I just told him, ‘I am just being lazy.” He was not happy and said ‘You just cannot be lazy.” Despite the health challenges he was going through, I rarely saw him have a stubble. He practiced what he preached.
- In summary, this is totally a mindset issue. One should religiously value one’s time and make oneself accountable. I know, it’s easier said than done.
The Shadow Battle with Lust:
- No, I don’t have a personal story here. But two things. First, appreciate Akshay writing about it. Second, yes, we are human beings and we are all prone to similar feelings, so it’s perfectly normal. So unlike laziness above, which should be ruthlessly attacked, smothered, broken into pieces and killed, the same treatment need not be moderated out to lust.
I would disagree with Akshay’s judgement that his life story is three steps forward and two steps back. The journey of self-awareness is the toughest and most important learning in life. Just being aware that one is lazy, irresponsible, dishonest, forgetful, etc. is more more important than whether one is able to ‘do something‘ about it. Correcting oneself is not as important, as is being humble and accepting the consequences of those shortcomings, so you don’t have to ‘beat yourself to death‘ about it.
This post was all about Akshay’s post and I will NOT steal his thunder by writing more. Thanks for reading!