One of my favourite quotes is,
“A leader may not know the answers to all the questions but he knows how to ask the right questions”.
This powerful quote has stayed fresh in my mind ever since I read it. It has come in handy while solving tricky problems in life and at work.
One of the most challenging situations that we have ever faced in our lives was our bankruptcy in 1996. After moving out of Chennai, we tried our luck in Hyderabad, then Mumbai and finally landed up in Delhi in 1997. While the situation was better in Delhi, we were far from being out of our financial woes. We had a roof over our head and enough money to eke out a living. We had to pay Rs. 13,000 every month as interest to our creditors which was tough to manage.
Whatever opportunity we were seeking at that time, be it consulting or training or full/part time jobs, we were always fixated on first getting this amount of Rs.13,000 every month so that we kept our creditors at bay. There was also relentless pressure from some of our creditors to return their principal amount. Obviously, both of us (Bindu and I) did not appreciate the situation we were in and were getting frustrated. Interestingly, we had brought our collection of books with us and kept re-reading Stephen Covey’s ‘7 Habits of highly effective people’ and Tony Robbins’ ‘Awaken the Giant Within’. Two things stood out for us – “paradigm shift” from the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and focussing where we wanted to go rather than where we were headed – a concept explained in “Awaken the Giant Within” using car racers and their training.
One day, maybe under the influence of these two concepts, and utter frustration, Bindu asked the ‘right’ question – Why are we focussed on earning only Rs. 13000 every month ? Why aren’t we trying to earn to our potential? Her question on “focusing on earning interest money Vs earning to our potential” was indeed a paradigm shifting question and it became our life changing question as well.
We brainstormed and wrote down hundred different ideas of earning to our potential. From this large number of ideas we implemented one idea immediately, which was to do an Advanced Management Program from IIM, Ahmedabad. I applied for the MEP at IIM Ahmedabad and completed it in March 2000. Despite the stamp of IIM A on my CV, it took me more than a year to get a good job, even though interviews started pouring in. I got a fantastic job in the year 2002 with an international strategic consulting organisation and as part of the paradigm shift of earning to our potential, Bindu moved into a well paying job in the emerging BPO industry. Both these jobs helped us to repay all our loans (Rs. 1.8 million, in today’s terms approx Rs. 28 million) within 12 months.
Just changing the question we asked ourselves, changed our lives completely !!
Its a lesson for life – Change Your Question, Change Your Life.