Monday 10 March 2014

Change & Emotional Detachment: First lessons of my professional life

Sitting across the room was an unassuming kind of grey-haired man, in simple shirt & trouser. I hardly noticed him when I entered the room as I was focused on task ahead - to participate in a group discussion, which would further my chances of getting my first job. There were 7-8 participants, 3-4 coordinators and the grey-haired man - all were introduced, except for this grey-haired man!

GD went okay, I was offered a job (after a few rounds of interviews) and only then I came to know that the grey-haired man was not a simple observer of GD rounds - he was the VC of the company I was joining. My surprise just didn't end there - I was hired (along with 4 others from my class), to work in his team. 

I didn't know how or what got me that job - I didn't know what would be the job profile either. 5 of us, who were chosen to work in VC's team, were just told we were to work in his team - period! Following seven weeks were some of the most interesting times I have seen.

There was a thought, a deep rooted thought, behind the 5 of us being in VC's team. It was simple yet powerful. We were told how our team was looked as agents of change - the role being, understanding VC and his thoughts, taking them to various departments and teams - to help percolate what the top thinks to the rest.

First few days weren't about doing anything specific, or being in any operational role. These days were about getting to know the company and more importantly - its VC. We would meet up at VC's office or at times, at his residence - where ever he was and wanted to meet. The general objective of such meetings was simple - pay attention to every word being spoken, take time to absorb and spend a great deal in internalising it.

In one of our meetings, we were introduced to an ideology: emotional detachment.

It wasn't an easy ideology to comprehend, not for early-twenty somethings, in first few weeks of working life - trying to understand why was a concept like this being discussed...instead of doing some work!

As I took time with the concept, I began to see its depth and strength - both, at the personal and professional level. By this time, I had already realised that the role I was hired for wasn't what I will continue to do for long...I will be moved sooner (than later) from current position to some other - after all change was the mantra. It was suddenly easy to see how being emotionally detached, one could change without being bothered and adjust in new surroundings, successfully!

True to the promise of change, the 5 of us were transferred. This transfer came much sooner than we had anticipated and to a department we wouldn't have preferred to go to. But that is what the previous few weeks' training was all about. To be open to accepting change - to be open to work anywhere the company needed and do what was required. 

It wouldn't be honest of me to say this change was easy to accept...actually it was quite a bitter pill to swallow at the time. On being thrown into a role I didn't like, didn't want...the next few days were miserable for me. However, I started to adjust and get on with life...something inside of me had probably started accepting the concepts of change and emotional detachment.

Over 11 years of work life now, with experience, I have learnt a lot and over time I have developed my own style, my own theories...but I have realised not much trumps the first lessons of my professional life. Today, as part of an entrepreneurial venture - I need to be adept with change and cannot hold anything so dear to me that I can't part with.

I am not sure how my life would have been had I taken a different job or offered a different role 11 years back - but I am sure these lessons would have come to me later in life and most certainly at a higher price. There is no doubt in my mind that without the ability to change and to-let-go, growing as a professional (and a person) isn't possible.

Saturday 8 March 2014

The Eternal Question

Purpose of life...reason to live
Everyone searching, everyone worried
Everyone needs an answer - is there one?

Think life is too short
This life is complicated as well
Pressure on shoulders weighs a ton

Been advised to chill...
Been advised to relax...take one day at a time
Not worrying is half the battle won

Been advised, live for today
Been advised, tomorrow never comes
Long term thought skipped for short term fun!

Is it the correct decision
Has it been thought out?
Will it be a dud...or a home-run?

Where will it lead?
Where will it all stop?
Will I be remembered as someone or end as no-one?

Purpose of life...reason to live
Everyone searching, everyone worried
Everyone needs an answer - is there one?

Saturday 1 March 2014

Feminism Reduced Chivalry...Not Chauvinism!

Even as a child, looking at my father, I knew women were special - to be given special treatment and special attention. He taught me small things, by example, to open doors, to be towards traffic when walking together, to pay for meals...and more such similar acts. At that time, I didn't understand chivalry - but understood that women were somehow special. I worked hard at practicing what I was learning, developed these actions and made them part of me much before I even came across the word 'chivalrous'. Soon after being introduced to chivalry, I learnt two more terms - chauvinism and feminism...

There is some common ground between chivalry and chauvinism - men and women are not the same, thus not equal. The actions depicting either chivalry or chauvinism - both support tends to put more respect for women and the other does this a lot less. But when we try and see through smoke screens (created by positives of chivalry and negatives of chauvinism) - we can't deny, both these suggest one thing and one thing only: men and women are not equal! I now further believe that all chivalrous men are chauvinists as well. I don't think these two are mutually exclusive - just that each individual man has different degree of chivalry and chauvinism...which ever quality is over-powering the other, shows more often.

The wave of feminism started decades talked of liberating women from oppression and showed them the path of self-actualisation. By definition - feminism demanded equality of sexes...that men and women be treated equally - at the same level in every sense. Women in their zeal to become 'equal' to men have definitely ensured that they are more prominent now, given 'equal' responsibilities & opportunities and probably got an 'equal' status in society as well.

My problem with this is - I have always thought of women as special, thus better than men...why would they want to become my equal?  

In my view - here lies the bigger problem. Chivalrous men were first to be converted by concept of feminism.  Women were becoming 'equal' to men - they didn't want any special treatment. Women started fighting off all and any treatment that said "you are different". Simple acts of chivalry were looked with a skeptical eye and often rejected. Soon afterwards started doubting chivalrous acts as those with an ulterior motive. 

There was such an overload of 'equality for women' that the men who thought of women as special, started to question - "what is so special about women?". In due course - chivalrous men took a back seat...told themselves that women are equal indeed and thus, special treatment is unfair.

On the other hand - the chauvinists were being challenged as well. They didn't like to be pushed to treat women as their 'equal'. These men had to change - since legally and morally society was changing. Women were taking on more than they ever had...doing a better job of it as well. This resulted in resentment in chauvinists' mind, widening the feeling of inequality that existed earlier.

Are women better off today? I definitely believe so. Feminism did deliver on its basic promises - provided equality - a platform for women equally shared with men. But if I am asked - were the feminists targeting reducing chivalry or chauvinism and if that has been achieved...on that account, I sadly believe feminism hasn't had a favourable outcome. Reduction in chivalrous men and rise in chauvinistic men - how can this scenario be good in future? Time will tell...probably via another movement - oneism!