Corporate musings

Thank you 2013 … Welcome 2014


New Year resolutions are no fun, because they are largely symbolic and so temporary, like the fashion of the day. Change also happens once there is enough impetus and the right environment, and somehow New Year eve is not a great time for either. So I like to think of learnings from each year that I can carry forward.

2013 was like any other year with the good and the bad, the victories and the losses, progress and regress but somehow it feels like a year where we lost more than we gained – we lost some really nice people and somehow in December there seems to be a mad scramble to get out of this world. Soni – it’s just a month since you left, but it feels so long ago and you are so missed. The world lost Madiba, a true hero. Radha lost her battle with cancer as did Don Levy. Don – I just read some of your comments to my early blogs in 2012 and missing the warmth and connect. My uncle passed away, as did Farooq Sheikh just days before the year was out on the 27th. Rest in peace, all those who chose to leave and thanks for making the world a better place in the time you had here.

We had a lot of travel this year.. For ISB. Brazil, US, China and Singapore and the visit to Hampi, a world heritage site. Enjoyable drives from Bangalore to Hyderabad and ShikshaDaan’s new donors and receivers. Meeting Vidya, even though for just a few hours.. Meeting Varun after 11 years, meeting Adeeti, Javed, Harish. Dinky joining Infosys. Meeting Ranjeet on the last day of the year. Meeting Rajinder during the Mohali term. The many trips to Gurgaon, the trip to Chennai and sari shopping in Bangalore’s RMKV. Fub Seniormost joining and Fub Junior leaving, Aaliyah’s many appropriate advice. Meeting Vidyasagar Sir after nearly 23 years and meeting Veda and Pooja finally. Anshu spending a night at home and chatting about Goonj, meeting APD often and finding Sneha foods to bring Idiyappams home. Trying to make Veg stew for the first time and finally watching a couple of movies in a theatre after nearly two years. Buying the “Bullet” and not riding it enough and discovering “cyclists for life” who got the Giant back to life and fixed Krishnan’s 4300 too. My knee pain and constant ranting about the traffic…Krishnan’s daily dose of tender coconut water. Ten years with Aon Hewitt.. Ashok, Kabir and I in the same city. The new iPad and special Diwali with my mom-in-law. Missing the winter last Dec, but catching it this Dec and wearing all my favorite jackets. AAP dealing a body blow to Congress and BJP missing a 4 – 0 sweep by just 4 seats !! Rahul continuing to bumble and tumble, while Modi getting massive crowds. 2013 was fun.

Here are my top three learnings ..

1. Leadership is a gift, a responsibility and lifelong learning. There are some things that experience will teach you but the little something that makes you stand apart as a leader is a gift. If you have the gift of leadership, the wrapper over it is responsibility to not fritter it away. Understand that not everyone has the gift, a Nelson Mandela did, a Margaret Thatcher did and whether we like it or not, Narendra Modi has it .. Not everyone who served tea on Indian Railways has managed to dream of being the Chief Minister, leave alone the Prime Minister and yes my favorite, Mahendra Singh Dhoni becoming the Indian cricket team’s captain in a short period of time. Refine your leadership style, learn from everyone, lose your ego, be a coach not the “boss”. A big learning for me this year was your responsibility as a coach doesn’t end – whether it was Venki to whom I kept going back to for a different perspective or advise or whether I as a coach was reached out to – the role never ends. The alias for a leader is a learner, the day you stop learning, you stop being a leader. Learning can happen in any way, but it has to happen every minute, every hour of your life as a leader.

2. Love what you do or conversely do “only” what you love … Easier said than done. But it makes such a huge difference ! Our Professor for strategy Prashant Kale was not at the top of his class in his engineering program but as a professor he got rated amongst the top 10 living best business school professors in the world. Or my favorite Prof Luis Martins, who completed his Masters in Maths (yeah, oh God) when he was 19, and just does what he loves – teach about leadership, change and organizational behavior. Have to mention my English teacher Vidyasagar Sir and Krishnan’s dad for doing what they loved to do – teach. Ok, I won’t disappoint my classmates and friends – Steve Jobs, the best example of someone doing “only” what he loves to do. If you do what you love to do, you don’t have to work a single day. I get it, many people may not have the choice due to financial constraints, societal or family constraints, but everyone can keep looking for what they love to do and make their way towards it if they are the regular normal folk. The crazy ones are listed above 🙂 btw my father-in-law switched to being a teacher when as a family they were really struggling and he left a secure government job in the Indian Railways to do what he loved to do… So let’s not blame any circumstance or money for the choice we make.

3. Meditate, not medicate. The past can reach out to spoil your present … Deep traumatic incidents have to be let go, but it’s not easy and many people put on a brave face and get on with life and not realise that their current health, mental and physical, is being influenced by these incidents. Krishnan went through two really tough incidents, one when he was a little boy and the other when he was in his early twenties. He thought he had overcome those and he was all sorted … And many of you have met him, know that he is as sorted as they come. For the past three years Krishnan had a series of health issues that had no relation to either our lifestyle or food habits. For instance he had pain at the base of his foot, a calcuneal spur and the doctor was surprised because Krishnan is and has been a teetotaler and is a vegetarian since birth (no fish, no eggs, no meat). We finally went and met a therapist in Dr. Newton Kondaveti’s office in Hyderabad and that’s when we realised many of the health issues he has facing have a root in the two traumatic incidents from before. After sessions to “re-live and relieve” with the therapist, there is a remarkable improvement in Krishnan’s overall health. Not everything that is going wrong in your life has a past incident that’s causing it, but then, it could be too. So watch out if there are any such incidents and learn to let go. Get help if need be . The biggest lesson was the importance of meditation – so start to meditate now and let go of all medication.

Welcome to 2014 … Here we come 🙂

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