Anecdotes For Life

Have you ever wondered about what experiences different people go through, which makes them the person they are today? Well, I do that often. Being a social person, I meet a lot of people and I love talking to them, knowing about them and their lives. I often ask people about one experience in their professional life that changed them or made them the person they are today. After asking this to several people, here are the three most interesting instances I came across. The best part about them is that they are actually such simple instances that might not have been important back then, but shows significance in the long run.

(For the purpose of maintaining confidentiality and privacy, the names have been changed)

Mrs. P has always been a calm and composed woman. She loves children and teaching, and thus, being a teacher was her best suited career choice. After attaining a Bachelor’s degree in Education, she started working as a kindergarten teacher. Although she loved her work and got along with the kids fairly well, it wasn’t until she came across ne particular child that her understanding of her job and her role in it became clear. M was a cute little boy who came to the school where P taught. However, there were other teachers too who taught M, but he was most attached to  and would not listen to anyone else or go to anyone else. One day, P’s senior was taking class and M got into trouble with her. The teacher yelled at him and he stood in a corner crying. When he was being yelled at, his eyes searched for P and when he found her, he silently cried and kept looking at her. It was almost like he was begging P to come and save him from being shouted at. It was at this moment that P realized why the little boy was so fond of her – he sees a protective mother figure in her since he is away from his own mother in school. All this while, she had been thinking that being a kindergarten teacher is as simple as being a school teacher. However, she learned with M’s incident that when children come to school, they are leaving behind their mother – the first primary caretaker of their life. This generated separation anxiety in them. When they find a mother figure in their school teacher, they feel safe and thus, respond well, learn better and show signs of growth quickly. Once P understood this, i.e. her role in the job, she was able to connect with more children and be a successful teacher.

***

We have been taught the importance of quality over quantity time and again in life. Despite that, most of us generally tend to overlook the quality of a product. For people working in companies that offer products and services to the consumers, quality should be the top most priority. Mr. S was once driving back home from a long day at work. On his way back, he stopped at a small vendor who sold freshly roasted peanuts on the corner of a road. Since this incident took place several years back, the cost of one paper cone of peanuts was merely 5Rs. The vendor filled a cone with peanuts and outstretched his hand to give it to Mr. S. However, he immediately withdrew his hand and stashed the cone away without an explanation. On probing him for why he behaved that way, the vendor replied saying – “the peanuts were slightly burnt and would not taste nice, and since I’m taking money for those handful of peanuts, I must serve good quality to the customer. Give me 5 minutes sir, I’ll roast a new batch of peanuts for you”. Mr. S was stumped on hearing this. The peanuts cost just 5Rs. and he would not have really cared for them to be perfect. But if a small vendor can be so concerned about the quality of product her serves to the customer, then why can’t the big guys do the same? Mr. S is a businessman – the CEO of a kids’ garment manufacturing company. Ever since this incident, he has an increased respect for consumers, quality of his product and appreciation for the vendor’s honesty.

***

Mr. K is a young film enthusiast and aspiring film director of about 24 years of age. He started working at the age of 16 and has been in the industry ever since. Belonging to a family who is into filmmaking since generations, his family encouraged him to take on projects and do what he thought was right. Besides working as an assistant director on several big projects, in his free time, he also reads a lot of books and writes stories for his own film which he dreams of directing soon. He dropped out of his last year in college when he got a great opportunity to pursue his dreams. Soon enough, he started his own production house with a friend as his business partner. Both of them wanted to get into main stream filmmaking, but they knew their path was a rocky road. They started doing wedding short-films and online digital media making. They would deliver the service and the end product to the best of their abilities. However, their company had stopped growing. Since his partner was now married and his wife was in the same company, the couple was happy with the way things were –  they both had a company of their own, they liked their work and were satisfied with the money they were making. Mr. K, on the other hand, was extremely disappointed with the work as well as himself. He had different dreams and aspirations from that of his partners. He waited patiently for a change to occur, hoping things will turn around. But a difference of opinion soon began to build up between the partners. Tired of working for something that he did not believe in, that did not give him any kind of job satisfaction or any sense of self-fulfillment, he decided to quit the company altogether. Starting the company in the first place was his idea – it was his baby. But there was little he could do to change his partner’s mind about the work they were doing. It wasn’t a rash decision or a hasty one, it was a well-thought of decision which he took after a long time of contemplating and analyzing. In his words “he took back his hand before he burned himself in the process of keeping the flame alive.” Mr. K is still finding his way to pursue his dreams and achieve his goals, but leaving his own company left him shaken and he learnt an important lesson of life – although you have to start small for the big goals you want to achieve, you should never digress from your chosen path because it will only lead you astray.

What I learn from the life experiences of these three people is this:

1. I understand the value of understanding your role in a particular job profile. Unless you have clarity in what you have to do at work, you will not succeed.
2. Never overlook quality over the price or quantity. Customers trust you to provide the best, exceed their expectations.
3. Do not go astray from your goals even if you lose the plot sometimes. Trace your way back to square one and start anew. It is the only way you will make your dreams come true.

StartUp India – A New Beginning

In the 30th October, 2015  issue of Economic Times, Ishan Gupta talks about the importance of culture in a company. He is the CEO of Edukart.com, which is an online education website wherein national and international course providers provide distance education to students online. The article starts off by listing the pros of being an entrepreneur and then talks about the kind of culture suitable for efficient working of a startup venture. By culture, he does not mean the traditional norms of culture in a society; culture, here, refers to the environment and working of a company for its employees. He lists down several of the most important cultural aspects that have been adopted for Edukart, his own venture. These are:

Feeling of accomplishment – Refers to the employee satisfaction derived by letting them feel like they are responsible for the work they do and its consequences, whether good or bad. This keeps the employees more motivated.

Risk-taking – Giving the employees an opportunity to take risks and figure things out themselves contribute to healthy a culture in a company. Moreover, startups benefit more from employees involved in taking risks because they are more suitable to be leaders in future.

Colleagues – A cohesive team of employees can benefit from each others’ strengths and make up for their weaknesses.

Customer consideration – Whether it is a product or a service, keeping customer satisfaction in mind for employees in all departments goes a long way in achieving the goals of the company.

Time saving – Emphasizing on the importance of finishing tasks beforehand or on time, rather than procrastination sets a tradition for the company and ensures success.

Get the work done – It is important for a startup to have employees who are willing to face challenges and are ready to handle mishaps.

Startups

The reason I chose this article to write about this is because it emphasizes on points which are generally overlooked, despite being the most common ones. With a lot of startups coming up in India as well as across the globe, it is important for the young entrepreneurs to understand that there are more factors playing a role in the success of an idea, apart from the idea itself. For eg. If you have a brilliant product idea and the resources to manufacture it, but your employees themselves have no faith in the success of the product, they will have zero motivation to work towards it. Employee motivation plays an important role in the success or failure of a startup. The only way a startup can envision success is if the culture and the environment of the company provides the employees with opportunities to execute their talents, skills and explore their potentials while working towards the company goals. Ultimately it all comes down to shaping a company’s culture in a way in which the employees feel valued, appreciated, motivated and responsible.

The Artists

Artists swarm the field
Their brushes raised high.
Each of them has a design
In mind.
The horn sounds
To advance their charge.
The steel brushes fly
As great fountains of red
Arc across the blue sky.
The green glade is trampled
Into a viscous vicious brown.
There will be no applause,
No awards nor cheers.
These artists will never be named.
Yet they paint, for their pride
And honor.
A lust to destroy something beautiful.
What could be more alluring
Than that created in Gods image?
Shouts and cries ascend to the heavens
As each ones canvas comes to an end.
Their hearts are aflame, an inferno
A signal for their muse.
The last stroke is made
A final strike of red.
The lone artist stands on his field
Bathed in the paint of the hour.
The ravens descend.

– Sagar Nerala

(P.S – This piece is written by a dear friend of mine who refuses to publish his work himself, but has honoured me with the publishing rights for it.)

image

Fleeting Moments of the Ineffable

Many a times in life, you come across certain people whom you eventually feel close to than others. These are the people you connect with, share similar interests with and the ones who ‘get’ you. Be it a day or a month since you’ve known them, you feel like you know them and understand them like no one else does. So, you claim some unspoken rights over these people. However, who is to decide how well you know them, or if you really know them at all? Is your belief about ‘knowing’ someone real or is it all just in your head?

Just because you think you know that person, you feel connected and attached to them. But what if it is just you attached to the person while the other person doesn’t even find you worth thinking about? There aren’t just one sided romantic relationships, there are one sided friendships too. You think you are close to someone but that someone may not care about you at all.

Speaking from personal experience, I know exactly how it feels to be the one emotionally dependent on someone who doesn’t care about you as much as you do about them. It hurts. It hurts so much because you feel like you’re trying too hard to be a part of their life. It hurts because they don’t care if you’re mad at them or upset with them. A little tiff with them can ruin your mood whereas their day continues as if nothing happened. It hurts to know that while you would be willing to take a bullet for them, they will remain oblivious to the amount of concern you have for them.

Finally, when you do snap out of this one sided friendship, you realize that you have been investing your time and energy behind something that was never going to bloom into a close knit bond. So you gather your remaining self-respect and walk out of their life with your head held high. Never ever should you allow yourself to wallow in self-pity over someone who doesn’t even think about you for a fleeting moment. There is only so much you can do for someone who wouldn’t do the same for you. Know your worth. Know that you deserve better than this. It is only when you start valuing yourself that people will learn to value you. Being kind and selfless is one thing, but being foolish is another. Never be selfless and self-sacrificing to the point of self-destruction.

Total Eclipse Of The Heart

Each one of us have at some point in life experienced a heartbreak. Some of us got over it quickly, some of us may have taken some time, or maybe some of us never got over it. But we all know how it feels to get your heart broken into a million pieces and being left alone to patch them back up together and move on. Does this stop us from falling in love again? No, I guess not. We may be scared; we would be stupid to not be. But like F. Scott Fitzgerald said “We are all just humans, drunk on the idea that love, only love, could heal our brokenness”.  So we move on, meet someone new, fall for them and let fate decide the course of that relationship. While it may blossom into a healthy relationship for many, for some, it does not necessarily always go well the second time around too.

That said, I recently got in touch with a long lost friend and she confided in me about her very recent heartbreak. After a terrible experience for falling for someone who didn’t value her and exhausted her emotionally, she met this wonderful guy who was sweet, intelligent, funny and kind. He had baggage, but who doesn’t? He made her laugh, cared about her and helped her get through tough times. There were several ups and downs in their unlabelled relationship, but they got through it. What started off as a rebound for probably both of them, now took a serious turn. He was sure about his feelings for her; she was still figuring it out for herself. Believing she will hurt him later, she decided to call it off immediately, to salvage what she could. She broke his heart, and probably her own too by doing that. Before she realized, things were rapidly going in a downward spiral. Their conversations became minimal, and they fought more than they spoke normally. Finally, not able to hold it in any longer, she spilled out her feelings to him and took a leap of faith and asked him out. The consequence? Another heartbreak. The once wonderful guy was now too adamant on leaving things the way they were because he was hurt and didn’t trust my friend anymore. I don’t blame him, after what my friend did to him despite knowing he was in love with her, expecting him to snap back to her instantly was asking for too much. But the least he could have done was acknowledge her feelings and allow things to settle; maybe meet once and talk it out. But nothing happens like it does in movies; everyone does not get a second chance and things don’t settle even if you apologize and cry over it a million times. Even though he was clear about his decision, my friend gave it a last shot and called him up to save their sinking ship, but nothing good came out of that either. Picking up what was left of her broken heart and remaining self-respect, she walked away, taking the good memories they had and leaving behind the bad ones. She did not stop hurting, she feels the sadness and the void even today and her heart skips a beat every time her phone beeps, hoping he would message or call. But that is what she has come down to, waiting, anticipating and hurting.

You fought, you loved, you lost.

Walk Tall.

What I described here is what my friend told me about what she is going through right now. I truly believe that if the guy really loved her, he must have gone through something similar, or probably worse, when she called things off with him. From where I see it, I see two people really falling for each other, but too hurt to allow themselves to give it a second shot. I am no judge of relationships, I have had some failures in that area too. But all I’m trying to say is, everyone deserves a chance. My friend did hurt him, and she was wrong when she did. But did she deserve the hurt and pain he put her through? I don’t think so. She was just a girl, healing from one heartbreak, finding her place in this world and managed to get herself into another situation consequently.

Maybe if we all take a moment to stop and ponder over it, we may realize that love is not all you need. There is more to life than just finding love. Love is very crucial in life, it can move mountains and change lives. But looking for love and putting your heart through the pain of falling for the wrong person over and over again is unfair to yourself. If theories suggested by thinkers and philosophers were to be believed, there is someone special out there for each one of us; when the time is right, we will meet them and our lives will change forever. Some of us meet them really early on in life, and some of us have to wait for years before the right one comes along. So until then, our hearts deserve a break from all the stress, heartbreaks and sorrow. Allow yourself to fall for people, but don’t fall so hard that getting back to your feet seems impossible. Life is short, make it worth your while.