Some time back I was reading a collection of essays by Ayn Rand, ‘twas titled Capitalism: The unknown ideal. I was foolhardy enough to put my status message as so on a professional networking site (LinkedIn). A friend of mine commented on that saying –
let me know how to ameliorate the fact that capitalism is pro-incumbent. Also how do we bridge the rich poor divide..Raising taxes for the rich?
Then started a slew of replies, back and forth. I did not understand why do we have to bridge the rich and poor divide. I soon put the issue to rest and went ahead with my day-to-day life … until yesterday, when a chance discussion with Amol led us back to this issue.
I do not see why do we, as a society have to strive for collective equality (why else would you want to reduce the rich-poor divide?). Amol said, that it is not fair, that some people should have a good life while others do not even have basic amenities. I agree, its not fair. But such is life! How can there not be a divide, if there were no difference between people, then there would have been no difference between you and me. So where would your individualism go? People can’t be equal, they have to be TREATED equally. There is a difference.
I agree, that the country needs infrastructure boosts … so much so that it should support the basic needs of all. But to expect that the rich feel for the poor and give willingly, naaah … I have no such feelings.
On a light note, let me paint a picture for you of what would happen if all people were equal, here’s a song by Groove Armada, check the video out – If Everybody Looked the same.
I had written about Purpose and also how Perspective can be used to change the society, well … what does one do if one has neither? I did not have an answer for that now … if a person is devoid of both, then is his life a wasted time? Does he not achieve fulfillment??
Today, I get to throw one more term in this quagmire of confusion. If one has neither, then one need not worry … one simply needs to choose an ideal and uphold it. Simple. Pick an ideal of your choice, and live by it. I know its an axiomatic way of life, but imagine a world without living by any ideals.
Without an ideal, one may not know what is good or what is bad (think about this before you dismiss it). We talk about work-life balance … well, we choose work because we have career success as an ideal, we choose life because we choose being a good son as an ideal (or a good husband, a good father … the list goes on). \
The best part is that, there are no rules once you choose an ideal and live by it. Choice making is easier. I know a friend who lives by integrity as an ideal. Even if her job depends on it, she will choose to go take the path of integrity.
Yesterday I met some friends over snacks at Candies (in Bandra, do look it up if you are in the area). A friend of mine has recently switched to work as a manager in a reputed firm, and he was overall happy with his job (work from home and all the perks).
Then he said something which sparked off this post, he said the amount of money the firm wastes in their day-to-day activities is insane. At first it seemed as if he was talking about how the organization has money to spare … but then to drive his point home, he gave examples. Inane but true. A lot of us are willing to put in that extra buck just so that everything that can go wrong won’t.
The design has to be perfect, the models have to be dressed in a certain fashion, the product has to be the best. In creating these spaces, we are de-risking ourselves … that’s what I like to tell myself. But are we?
Is the price of failure so high that we don’t take action and let others do what needs to be done? So what’s the price of failure for different people? For a person who has nothing to loose, its zero. A start-up for example can afford to go in some communities and have it misrepresented … its ok, bygones can be bygones for them. But take a Coca Cola or a Pepsi (not that these are the aforementioned organizations), and you suddenly have to think about ten thousand other factors. Not a freeing thought, is it?
Would it help if one could see the price of failure as zero?
At a friend’s wedding, I heard about this new approach to one’s job. The man was talking that his employee’s are peace time soldiers, “eh?!?” I went. The idea is that many employees approach their job in a fashion like peace time soldiers … they assemble in formations, they do their drills, they salute to their seniors and when no one is looking, they relax and goof around. Having done this myself, I could not disagree … so what does one do to get out of this rut? The answer is simple … go to war!!
During war, soldiers are willing to give their lives (in this case their jobs) for a particular purpose. Employees should identify the purpose for which they will strive hard and achieve or else give their jobs. That gives them the true drive at work, an achievable goal and also a reality check. If an employee cannot come up with any such purpose, then you can be rest assured that he/she is already looking out for different opportunities and is not really pulling his/her weight around.
I tried this tactic with myself at my office, with wonderful results. Not only am I making goals clearer for myself, but also I am sending out a message to everyone else whom I am working with as to what drives me and what is my top priority.
A friend’s cousin approached me recently. He wanted to enter the gaming industry and was essentially clueless as to what to do next. Since this career stream was startlingly similar to what I had started out with (this was at the age of 10 for me though), I decided to make his quest my personal crusade. Where I had taken up games as a form of entertainment, I decided to take up his case.
So I asked him as to what had he done to get closer to his purpose. Other than playing different games, he had done absolutely nothing. He was starting from scratch, towards a journey less travelled. Imagine sailing in an uncharted sea (non-mainstream career), without a look-out tower (lack of visibility) and without the sails (lack of skill-sets) to drive you ahead. Tough journey right? I pointed him in the right direction and gave him some actionables that would get him started on his path. I also asked him to build the right set of capacities before makes the jump to gaming as a career. There is a vast difference between playing a game and making one, between having an interest and pursuing one, between having a purpose and acting on it.
I ask myself and you, that is mere purpose without action enough then? I might have lofty ambitions and a strong purpose driving me … but am I acting on that purpose?
I was unaware of the fact that JK Rowling (the author of the very popular Harry Potter series) holds an honorary degree from the Harvard Business School. So it came as a surprise when I chanced upon her Commencement speech at the HBS Alumni meet.
An excerpt –
But how much more are you, Harvard graduates of 2008, likely to touch other people’s lives? Your intelligence, your capacity for hard work, the education you have earned and received, give you unique status, and unique responsibilities. Even your nationality sets you apart. The great majority of you belong to the world’s only remaining superpower. The way you vote, the way you live, the way you protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government, has an impact way beyond your borders. That is your privilege, and your burden.
JK Rowling talks about how she looked at her failures to give her strength. To give her the courage to follow the road less trodden. Failure takes away all the unnecessary things, giving the individual focus and clarity. No wonder they say that failures are the pillars of success.
A parting note (quoting JK Rowling who was quoting Seneca) –
As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.
I think everyone who is aspiring to make it big should go through that speech. Success is not something that happens overnight, and without a certain clarity of purpose, it is very hard to succeed.
I read Chetan Bhagat’s novel, enjoyed it … but sadly the book lacked a certain message. It’s either that or it’s been 3 years and I dont remember the book very well. 3 idiots is a stark contrast.
The basic plot is the same, but once you go in the details, both the stories are distinctly different.
One of the central themes of the movie is about following one’s passion. To aim for excellence and not for ability. The scene where Aamir Khan talks about being well educated and not well trained is a must see. I can really identify with that, since its very much related to a vision that I am currently working on.
i-become is about realizing your career not as a place just to earn money, but as a place for following one’s passion by utilizing one’s full potential. The way Madhavan decides to follow his passion for Wildlife photography, so should each one of us aim for our aspirations. Without a purpose, a goal, an aspiration … life is nothing but a empty shell.