Peep outside, every once in a while!

Three years ago, if you’d ask me why I wanted to get an MBA, I’d tell you: I find my current job restrictive; I have underutilized potential. I have the unique ability to see both the parts and their sum, a vision above and beyond what others at my tenure possess. Also, that I deserve to be paid a lot more than what I am — but you wouldn’t unless I create more value, which you wouldn’t let me unless I have an MBA.

So, I went and got myself an MBA.

Today day-in and day-out, I spend my time helping companies figure out strategies on market entry, cost optimization and the like. I help create phenomenal (and usually real) value, and get paid a cut of this value. Decisions impacting a few thousand people or worth tens or hundreds of millions are no biggie — all in the day’s work. Looks like I’ve succeeded in getting myself what I set out to get three years ago.

Only it doesn’t really feel that way.

Somehow, being surrounded by the high profile, high octane, high IQ, high performance, and in some cases high people doesn’t cut it — makes me feel rather meek and banal. There’s always someone who is better, and that itself isn’t such a blow; it’s just that it rarely feels like I’m doing something special, something different, something only a few in this world get to do. In reality, that is exactly how it is — or so I’d like to believe, so all you bubble-bursters beware! — but somehow in the grand scheme of things, I’ve merely lost the perspective to see it that way.

The sheer quanta of resources available at my disposal, and collectively at our disposal make us capable of doing many great things. It’s almost like the simplest machine of all — a lever. There’s tremendous leverage available, but the will and discipline to use it is somewhat lacking, probably because of this loss of perspective, among other things. This, of course, is a separate thread; possibly for discussion at a later time.

So I am now thinking, how do I get back this lost perspective? And the answer is starting me right in my face — look around. It’s completely fair and even expected to benchmark oneself with peers, just broaden the set of peers. Once the law of averages catches up, it is easy to realize how much higher up one really is, and this sheer perspective is a great boost — it destroys ennui, makes one more productive, and in rare cases even thankful for the many opportunities that come one’s way.

Of course, this is not to say that one should be smug, or feel arrived, or worse,  belittle others who, to put it mildly, haven’t quite made it. (And they are probably happier where they are — bless them! Or will make it, someday.)

Just that every one in a while, peep outside. Be pleasantly surprised!

—–

(The first time I experienced this was 8 months into my MBA — things were quite okay, but just that, only okay. I grabbed the opportunity to conduct mock GD/PI sessions for prospective candidates. The candidates idolized me — as if I were magical! Few things in life were as rewarding, from the perspective sense. It just made me feel happier about myself. Life suddenly looked a lot better, cheerful and worth it all.

Despite this, this peeping doesn’t come naturally. A reminder every once in a while is helpful. Here’s yours. And mine!)

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Of Tides And Anchors

I earned my MBA-equivalent diploma from the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIMC) today, marking an end to a journey that began over seven years ago with the first time I took a diagnostic test for the Common Entrance Test (CAT), marking also a new milestone in life.

So what has happened in the last two years while at IIMC? A lot of things – self discovery, world discovery and everything in between. There has been growth, in bursts and fits, and a mild flavour of regrets that accompany every this-is-the-most-awesomest-thing-ever in life. And at this turning-point, if it may be called so, I’m torn between having the world wide open, with the capacity and competency to do whatever, attain great heights and just be out there, doing whatever comes to mind – I can do it all, with a clean slate and a great launch pad; and between the changes and transitions that are only natural, of friends, relationships and what-ifs, because life is moving on, and it is doing that for everyone without exception – of course, expecting others to be an anchor while one ebbs and flows with the tide is neither realistic nor desirable.

There are pangs – I wouldn’t go calling them guilt – but pangs for things that should or could have been different. People I should have known better, or known earlier, or even just simply known – people with definite relationship potential, interesting people and people with whom you’d want to spend time with. Or pangs for being indifferent, for not saying things when they mattered, for dilly-dallying while people took stock of their lives and moved on – not necessarily away, but not to the fullest potential of the relationship either. This is the loss that I grieve the most.

Maybe it will help to speak out even now – but the contexts have changed, and one, it simply wouldn’t be the same, and two, things could turn for the worse. Again, there’s nothing so serious, really, as this last sentence would make appear, but the gist is there.

So what’s the lesson to be learnt – live life to the fullest, every moment. And I have had the privilege of knowing people who have made this their life mantra and live it effortlessly, whether consciously or otherwise, in my two years at IIMC. They will forever remain an inspiration.

Make Me Happy

No, it doesn’t take a lot to make someone happy. Sometimes even a wayward glance will do the trick. Or possibly just a short call for no other reason than to say “Hi there!”

Then why is it that we don’t do it often enough?

I have a theory: If we always did it, we’d take all the surprise away from it. Much of the happiness comes from the unexpectedness. The thought: “I can’t believe he did that. He never does that. I feel so special!” does not happen otherwise. If emotions and feelings become banal, then they lose their impact; they are just there, unfelt.

Of course, all of this seems rather obvious.  The non-obvious bit is this: When, why and how does one decide to act unexpected and make someone happy? Some enlightened souls follow a basic principle in life: they will make at least one person happy every day. But I wonder if that provides the same satisfaction and pleasure as making someone happy just once-in-a-while.

It is not altogether incorrect when Agent Smith explains to Morpheus in The Matrix:

Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from.

Opportunities and Experiences

There are times in life when opportunities seem to be spread too thin. I think this is because we forget the sound of the distinct knock on the metaphorical door. All that is really needed is a way to break out of the clutter, to rise up to a viewing platform that is higher than the surroundings for the bird’s eye-view, or as managers might say: “Give me the 30000 feet view.”

While the devil may be in the details, details are often easy to manage. The scope is limited, and usually clearly defined. It is far more difficult to acquire and sustain a wholesome perspective on things and, of course, on life.

My recent three-month-long student exchange programme (STEP) is a succinct example of this.

I wouldn’t say that STEP was a life-changing experience, but it certainly was an enriching and endearing one. And to come to think of it, I wouldn’t even have gone, if it were not for the way events turned out to be. (In fact, in hindsight I feel that there couldn’t have been a better way – it was good the way it happened.) But what is important is that I did, and I take it upon myself to educate the next batch: GO! Forget everything else, just go! It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and the experiences are worth every cent!

So do I regret neglecting my positions of responsibilities? Short answer: Hell, no! Long answer: Neglect? What neglect? I delivered an acceptable performance on the one thing that really mattered. Sure, if I were to do a self-evaluation, I’d agree that it was only an average performance. But an acceptable one, none-the-less. Things worked as intended. Nothing broke down. Sure, a lot more could be done, but wasn’t done, as was expected if I went on exchange. I still think the trade was worth it. Call it a selfish decision, if you want. But, to justify, there was no guarantee that things would have been better if I were on campus or if this opportunity would be given to someone else. You could argue the other way, but in this reality, there cannot be a definite conclusion; everyone could be awarded the benefit of doubt.

But I did miss some moments in the term back home. Indeed, the best thing would have been doing both, but we all know that is not possible. Still, all in all, I’d say that it was a great decision to go.

Lesson: Get the BIG picture. Always.

Happy

I’m just happy.

I can’t completely explain it, but I feel amazing.

Maybe it has got to do with the fact that tomorrow is a Sunday, and I don’t have to necessarily do anything all day, except lazying around, and while I have to finish a lot of stuff as my internship draws to a close, all of that can wait for Monday.

Or maybe it has got to do with almost an entire bottle of good ol’ Thums Up that I downed, while listening to Alizee and chatting with old contacts on my GTalk list. And checking out stats of the various web properties that I maintain.

Maybe it has got to do with being back home after more than a week, and finding things just the way they always were, and technology especially just working the way it is indended to work.

Or maybe it has got to do with a strategy forming in my head, of hopes and aspirations, of having found a way out of the rot, of rising expectations that I might just perhaps deliver, of just knowning that things will turn out okay in the end.

It could just well be the endorphins.

Whatever the reason be, I am just feeling extremely elated, overdosed on happiness. I could take over the world at this very moment.

Now, if only it were to rain…

———————-

Believe in believing! 🙂

To you!

Sometimes one just fails to appreciate and notice all the subtleties and efforts put in by your partner. Or maybe one does notice, but claims to not care, when in reality one does care, but still acts as a jerk.

I’m apologetic to a number of people in my life, who have had the misfortune of knowing me and putting in a lot, for the sake of love, friendship and / or otherwise, but getting short-changed in the process. I’m truly sorry, but no amount of apologies is going to be enough to settle the score.

I see the deficiencies in me, and I want to change. I want to be more sensitive where it really matters, and not just put up another façade where it is only shallow emotions and feelings, while the real substance just withers away waiting for the true me, for the reciprocation that is not only expected, but fair, just and only natural.

Life is cruel that way. I realize all this, but there’s little I can do, because I’m afraid to put all in myself, and love someone with all the emotions and life that I have. It is unfair, and I only hope that I turn out to be a better person, as a friend, a husband, a father and a son, when it really matters. I’ll put myself to sleep tonight with the thought that maybe the earlier failures were just training for this final event, and in that way they were justified and necessary, for all the costs that people bore, for me and for them.

I am happy to have had you in my life, and there is very little that comes close to the things that you’ve done for me. Thank you, and sorry. Please stay. You are important. To me.

How’s It Going To End?

I saw The Truman Show, yet again. (And I have my very last exam of the first year of my MBA-equivalent course tomorrow.)

I guess, in my life so far, the Con is the closest thing to the movie. But I’m not allowed to discuss that here.

That apart, this is one of those movies that unravels a new dimension ever single time I watch it. I first saw it when I was in my ninth or tenth grade, and while I understood and generally enjoyed the movie, I couldn’t appreciate it fully. I saw it again, once during my twelfth grade and then sometime during my engineering studies. And every single time, there were new layers and though processes.

The thing with manufactured worlds, whether it be the island for Truman, or the Matrix, or the government conspiracies in the X-files, or even our own life, (if you’d believe in intelligent design), is this: How’s it going to end? And once it does, what next?

Also: Does the end matter? If we live the moment, and have no regrets, it should be the path that should matter. Unfortunately, most of the time we simply forget that. I don’t know why these stories are scripted that way. Truman leaves the show, Morpheus and his gang wants to leave the Matrix (Neo, of course, stays behind in exchange for the gang’s freedom), Mulder wants to believe, forever. What is it that makes us want to leave what we so long believed was real, in favour of a world that is (supposedly) real?

Even if the made-up make-believe world is/was so much better?

Maybe I’m the lesser mortal, maybe I’m completely immature about this. But I choose the manufactured world. I choose the bubble.

Because in the end, it doesn’t matter.

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Google Reader makes things all too easy.