Sunday, April 27, 2014

Monday Musings 201 - Four circles and one point

Monday Musings 201 - Four circles and one point

Way back in rural Jharkhand in a small hamlet of sorts, so typically of the mofussil India, where I grew up, academics swayed between escape and a threat - escape in the sense that it offered a glimmer of hope that would lead us away and out of the oppression of backwardness; and a threat in the sense that children would be harshly reminded of what misery awaits them should they not spend hours and hours with books. I know for sure that this archetype was a fairly common - and children of this archetype are in organizations today. 

I am reminded of this archetype as I went through an amazing diagrammatic representation of what brings joy to the cublicle-wallah as he searches the elusive corporate salvation - a state of bliss and happiness that the sages and oracles promised us many eons back - just that they never worked in organizations. 

The diagram has four circles which cut through each other - and at only one point all four circles cut through each other - and that is the sweet spot. It talks about evaluating work on four key points - 

1. That which you love  2. That which you are good at  3. That which you can be paid for
4. That which the world needs

Let’s look at some combinations. This diagram does not belong to me. However the question at the end of it does. You must ask yours. 

a. Work which you love, are good at and the world needs - is your passion and can be converted into a missionbut it won’t be making money for you because you cannot be paid for it....the market has no time for your fantasies.

b. Work which you love, are good at and that you can be paid for - is your passion and can be converted into your professionthere is no larger purpose in your are just a cog in the will die, to borrow a phrase, without having made a dent in the universe because you never moved beyond the letter 'I'.

c. Work which you are good at, can be paid for and the world needs - is your profession and can be converted into a vocation - where is the Joie de vivre, where is the mojo, where is that spring in the steps and the song on the lips when you get ready to make millions out of something that you do not love...this is cruelty and worse, self inflicted. 

d. Work which you love, can be paid for and the world needs - is your vocation and can be converted into a mission.- You are mediocre but are lucky to be riding high demand which hides the inevitable discovery of your mediocrity. When the tide will ebb, you will be discovered. But enjoy till the party lasts. 

Coming back to the archetypes, the focus clearly was and perhaps is, what can you be paid for and to some extend what does the world needs, but never, never the other two. 

What do you think happens to these archetypes in organizations after 10-15 years?

Look around and you may know.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Monday musings 200: Eating crow and sundry questions

Monday musings 200: Eating crow and sundry questions

In all likelihood Narendra Modi will be the next occupant of 7 Race course. I have never really liked him and have often wondered why. The reasons for liking and not liking him are abound in the popular press and hence I would not waste words here. He has been a part of my musings in the past too, particularly one numbered 163 in the fag end of 2012 when he won Gujarat for the third time. I had postulated that a polarizing person like him would never become the PM of a country like India. Now that his ascendance is almost certain, I clearly have to eat crow. I have made public in my own circle of friends a mockery of his model, the limitations of his personality and my dislike of him pretty evident and I have a feeling the next time I meet them, they would be the one having a laugh - albeit at my expense. 

This musing is less about Modi, but more about how we deal with our own errors of judgment, misplaced predictions and the emotional balance (or rather the lack of it) of dealing with such a failure. I ask a few loud questions to myself. 

Let me admit and begin by saying that it feels miserable. It hurts like a thousand pins pricking the ego. How could I get it so wrong? Where did I err? How come I missed seeing the writing on the wall? How come I missed the signs?

Did I hold on to my opinion and stance for a tad too long than I should have? Was I wrong all along or I missed reading the change in the winds along the way? Did I let me sensing become better of me? Did I see what I wanted to see rather than what it really was? Was I projecting my own preference to the facts and hence never really understood when the sands beneath my feet had changed? 

Should I have moderated my stance as evidence contrary to my stand started to pour in? What stopped me? Was I throwing good money after bad money even when it was clear that the tide had changed? Was it the sunk cost fallacy that bewitched me just as it had done to many others?  

Is the ego of not letting my stance go bigger than the ability to be flexible and moderate? Is this a behavioral barrier that grips other aspects of life and work too? Is the potential loss of face just too strong a fear that made me sink deeper and deeper in the abyss and overruled the human instinct to admit a mistake and make amends, even at the daunting cost of loss of face?

How does one differentiate a pole position and a conviction from the obstinacy of dogma? Where does intellectual flexibility end and the oscillation of a wavering mind begin?  

How will I deal with such a thing in the future? Is the realization ephemeral as they usually are or has it acquired the permanence of a lesson learnt? Will there be enough courage in the fuel tank next time or will I succumb again to the trap of permanent positions?  

Questions, Questions and more questions. Mr. Modi must take care the questions for the nation. I guess I still have to answer mine.