I was just 21 when I was fortunate to have joined a thoroughly professional organisation without much struggle. 34 years have passed since then and believe you me the life journey has been ‘happening’ to say the least.
The never-ending struggle I see today’s generation going through right from school days makes me feel sad. The new generation always seem to be running against time. Most of them hardly ever have ‘me’ time. Starting from long drawn coaching classes to professional studies and the jobs they hardly get time to look up from their table/ laptop.
Stress levels are ever on the rise. A combination of parental, societal, educational, peer and professional pressures are pushing more and more youngsters towards suicides.
I am sharing a few lessons from my life journey. These will certainly help the younger generation to maintain their cool and lead a happy life.
Lesson 1: Marks do not matter….
I fortunately learnt very early in life that marks one got in school exams hardly made any difference to the outcome of life. Few years back while addressing a group of 12th class students I casually asked them if any of them knew the marks their parents or their teachers had got in their 12th class. All of them replied in negative. So, I asked them if any of them ever considered that their parents and teachers were not good humans or professionals and again the answer was a big No.
To be a good human, parent or a professional more than the marks one requires good values and a never say die attitude. It is the ability to imagine and the strength to face the rejections life throws which makes an individual successful or not so successful (No one ever fails; that is all in the mind).
It is high time young boys and girls stopped wasting time attending long heavily loaded coaching classes. They should find more time for themselves to be with themselves and the people who matter in life. Studies are important in life but should not be allowed to create undue stress.
Lesson 2: Invest in acquiring Knowledge & skills….
Unfortunately, our education system overloads the students with plethora of information. It fails miserably to teach them how to live life. The education system is just churning out servants; hardly any true leaders emerge from our colleges.
The youngsters should be encouraged to develop a creative hobby at an early age. It is this creative hobby which will live with them through their life. Even in the worst of times this hobby will not allow them to feel lonely. A creative mind will always find a way out from any problem.
Make a constant endeavour to acquire new skills and knowledge (or at least sharpen old skills). It is better to set learning/ upskilling objectives and follow them religiously. Keep the objectives adequately spaced out to ensure availability of adequate professional and family time. Undue hurry will only lead to unnecessary stress.
Life is full of distractions capable of pulling one away from the set goals. Majority of young professionals are confused about their purpose and goal. Some who do set reasonable goals get distracted midway due to varied reasons. One singular reason which affects the focus most is the opinion of others. As a society we worry too much about what others feel or may think. One can only side-line opinion with one’s own knowledge and skill-based capabilities.
It is the combination of skills, personal grooming and good values which will keep an individual ahead of competition.
Anyone who has knowledge, skills and a creative bent of mind will never face distress in professional life.
Lesson 3: Invest in health….
In the quest to excel in our professional life most youngsters end up neglecting health. At young age the body and mind can withstand tons of nonsense we load on them. But as the age catches up both body and mind start giving up. End result is headaches, lethargy often accompanied with clouded thinking. My suggestion is never to take anything specially the health, for granted.
I was always very particular about the routine I followed in office and at home but still ended up in a cath lab with two arteries blocked. I neglected the symptoms for over a month and still survived. The heart could withstand the ill treatment I gave because of the strict fitness regimen I had maintained all my life and the excellent team of doctors under whose care I landed up.
A well-planned schedule which caters for adequate space for a fitness workout, healthy diet and good relationships are what bring success in life.
A periodic health check up should be part of life routine at all ages.
Lesson 4: Invest in friends/ relationships….
Human being is a social animal and hence our mind is hardwired to seek and develop relationship. Unfortunately, as we grow in life most of us friends are left behind and we get tied to just our laptops and to some extent to the family.
Social media takes over the ‘social space’ and the friends in most cases turn to mere numbers with no face. Likes and smileys start mattering more than a ‘real hi’.
Friends are a need of life and cannot be replaced by machines or any other relation. A few good friends are enough to keep your life and thoughts balanced. Someone who has got genuine friends with whom share he or she can share even their darkest of secrets will safely come out from the worst of situations. Friends will leave you to die alone.
A relationship which one maintains with happiness as the only consideration is what makes life happy and happening.
Lesson 5: Value time….
Everyone gets 24 hours in a day to do whatever he or she wants. Learn to value time or else you will be short of it. It is rare that anyone who is constantly short of time will have a great professional or personal life. I never allowed time to overtake me, nor I ever tried to run ahead of my destiny; both are recipes for personal disasters. Learn to set realistic deadlines, set the priorities right. If your time management skills are poor, trust me neither your boss nor your wife will be happy with you (can you accept such a situation?)
I understand junior level executives do not have much say in unrealistic timelines set by bosses. However, make a note of what you did not like in your professional journey and change it when you are in a position to do so. Unfortunately, a vast majority on reaching top management positions forget what they did not like as junior executives and life keeps going as usual.
Lesson 6: Stay grounded….
Do not ever let the shine of success blind or blur your vision. Do not get too much carried away by the perks and the privileges which come with an appointment. Remember that all those perks are meant for the appointment and not for you. The privileges will be left behind the day you leave the position.
Do not shy away from accepting mistakes and passing on appreciation where it is due. A mistake ends the moment you accept it otherwise it has the potential to linger on and keep obstructing your growth.
Lesson 7: Keep mind ticking and feet moving….
A good leader is one whose mind and feet are always on the move. A leader should set a clear vision and follow it passionately till it is achieved.
A leader, at whatever level he or she is, got to be ready to face any adverse situation. This will only happen if he/ she has prepared well and has a mind which thinks things through. Every possible situation has to be anticipated well in advance and feasible solutions planned. One got to operate like the soldiers searching for a couple of terrorists in a dense jungle. The soldiers do not know the exact location or the exact way the terrorists may react. It is the synchronised functioning of the mind, eyes and the body which keeps the soldiers moving and ensures victory.
Interact with your team as much as you can and keep them aware of your mind. A team which is in sync with a leader’s mind will give the best results. Victory will only be achieved when the entire team crosses the finish line together.
Lesson 8: Communication should be always open….
Always keep the communication channels open vertically as well as laterally. As long as communication chain is functional solutions to the most difficult problems can be found by joint effort. Best ideas are generated when the channels of communication are clear, and each member of the team has a freedom to express. Top management also need to be on the listening mode at times.
These are few important lessons I have learnt thus far. I can say with conviction that my successful professional growth from a team leader responsible for 10 men at 21 years of age to framing and implementing policies for a large workforce at 50 plus has been possible due to the religious following of the seven lessons I learnt along the journey.