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.

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