Jun 12, 2008

The Last 4 Years

Totally random semi-philosophic post :-) .. Quite long too..Read if you have plenty of time and no other work to do .

There was a mail which I sent to a select group of friends four years back when I graduated..It was about what I learned about life during my graduation...Now , after another four years I'm again going back to college for my MBA . I think its time to have another writeup about my learnings during last four years of corporate life, both from a professional & personal perspective.. I'm putting those below.. This is all taken strictly from my perspective / learnings /conclusions.. I dont think many people might agree to all the points. Anyway, here it is..

1) Beyond a level, money would not bring you satisfaction..There is something called as concept of marginal utility in economics. ( You can google out the definitions )..The idea is something like this.. If you earn 3L , an increase in salary to 6L would bring you more satisfaction than what you will have if your salary increases from 1 Crore to 2 Crore. .. Basically, beyond a level, the power of cash to bring in additional satisfaction / completeness to your life drops drastically..But yes, you need a basic level of money ( which varies from person to person depending on his/her lifestyle ) ..beyond that, there is no point in chasing money..

2) 'Work Satisfaction' is often a myth / mirage :-) .. There should be some level of professional satisfaction, but people who jump from companies to companies in search of this 'work satisfaction' are not likely to find it anywhere in the long run.

3) This point might be of relevance to any fresher joining work -- In corporate life, its not enough that you work..You often have to advertise your work. If I look among my friends who have had fantastic career growth in last 4 years or so, one thing that I find among them distinctly is their ability to network , establish contacts in higher positions/various divisions etc.. Their career growth is not because of their fantastic coding skills or anything like that.. Be it any profession/industry , its your social skills that matter the most ... I'm sure that more than 90% of the people who have worked for about 3yrs or more would definitely agree to this.

4) The last four years has been a stretch wherein my faith/belief in God has been tested a lot..I've failed in that. Its not that I'm totally agnostic now..But I've more or less stopped praying to God for something to happen..( though involuntarily, I tend to pray sometimes because of my upbringing ) ..Infact, 4 years back whenever I face a problem, first thing that I used to do was to pray to God ..I no longer do that , though I often express my goodwill to God if something good happens :-) ... I dont know if this is good or bad..But certainly , at this point in life, I no longer have a blind faith that I've had 4 years before.. Infact, I feel that faith in something / someone can often lead to terrible disappointments.

5) Faith might not be a good thing to have, but 'hope' is a good thing to have ( Remember 'Shawshank Redemption' ) .. I do believe that life comes a full circle for some reason. If you have some good times now, its quite natural/certain that you will have bad times..And the reverse too. If you have had some bad times, certainly life would turnaround and you will have good times ( though this might not be perpetual ) .. And the key thing for this turnaround is 'hope' .. Hope or optimism has a strange power to motivate people to put in good effort.. If you keep up that hope, you can certainly cause good things to come in your life..

6) I've often asked myself what I should aim in life... I have not yet found out that..But I certainly feel that people would have a satisfied life if they engage themselves in quite a few things ( be it music / NGO / sports / community work /... ) and never 'retire' themselves .. A single minded focus on family + profession is quite likely to see you in a disappointed state sooner or later .. I know many people might disagree to this..I'm not saying you shouldnt care about these.. You should involve in other activities in addition to family & profession..

7) You can't plan your life realistically beyond a span of say, 2 years..In that sense, I've found all this MBA / MS 'statement of purpose' to be heights of nonsense..I think I myself tried different statement of purpose for different MBA interviews..And even after getting admission, I really dont think one should go in with a stereotyped mentality .. Its better to take decisions based on available options & situations rather than saying 'no' to all the possible chances (unless you are that precociously talented, wherein you can ace any test/interview that comes your way)

8) Its important to fail at some point(s) in life. Because,that itself is an experience.. That teaches you how to bounce back..how to correct yourself. And you should have the guts to admit a failure.

9) There is a statement in 'Dil Chahta Hai' that comes back to me again & again.. "Every action/decision by someone has a reason behind it" ( I forgot the Hindi wordings used in this scene..its when Amir Khan's father talks to him about why Preity Zinta doesnt want to marry him )
...Extending that, the reason behind an action by me might not be comprehensible to you..And a reason behind your action might not be comprehensible to me..Or rather, these buzzwords - rational , logical , common sensical -- all these vary from person to person to a great degree.. As an example when I say I've resigned from Oracle and am going to study, quite a few people think that I'm mad..quite a few people think that I'm right.. The point is, we too might be in a situation wherein we fail to appreciate the choice that another person is making.. But, we have to respect his/her choice because he/she will be having some reason behind that choice ( which, we might not be able to appreciate ) ..Arguments,debates ... all are fine..But once someone makes a decision, it is made.

10) Its important to enjoy the present, no matter however illustrious your past was / however promising your future is ... Certain things which your mind / conscience calls you to do, you just go ahead and do it..Dont bother about the expense / savings ( as long as you are not anywhere near bankruptcy :-) ) ..

11)I've come across many people who say "I've no regrets in life" ..If they really mean it, I envy them..I have plenty of regrets in life..I dont know if it is possible to be in a 'regret-less' state.. If it is, then i think I need to strive to reach that state.

12) This one is from public domain.. There is a common tendency among people to say that 'consensus should be achieved/majority opinion should be followed etc'.. But, be it in small teams or big nations, democracy might not result in good / correct things..As an example, I believe that Musharraf's rule is Pakistan is better for Indian security compared to a disjoint and weak democracy operating there..No matter however he manipulates the system to be at the helm, its often better to have a sensible man in control of the situation...The point to be kpet in mind is that, often we tend to think that somebody has taken a right solution, because it was the most democratic one..But democracy & correctness need not go together.

--- Ah enough nonsense..I guess I better stop.

( PS:- I'm not drunk :-) )


Rahul said...

I agree with all of them, except the premise behind the last. I think Pakistan's govt should be one the Pakistanis like, and not what is best for India... During Mush's reign, the problems have only been swept under the carpet. I think only democracies (or some more represenatative, yet stil not existent system) can make real peace.

Girl With Big Eyes said...

Congratulations. you are well equipped to easily pass the HR paper in the first year - Organisation Behaviour aka OB :)

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more

#2. Though I haven't jumped companies so far, I have been through so many "crests" and "troughs" on the work-satisfaction wave that I have stopped looking for happiness at work.

#12. I am sure there are millions of Pakistanis who are politically as matured as we Indians are. It's a pity that they haven't had a chance to shape their lives as a nation. A democracy will at least give them a chance to be heard. Mush or not Mush is really for the Pakistanis to decide.

Paro said...

Good post... was definitely a good read... :)

Anonymous said...

Point 4.
You should not believe in God because you want to achieve something. Likewise, your belief should not wane because whatever you want doesn't happen.
It is my belief that God is not there to ease you towards your goals. God is there to keep you in place, just to help you differentiate between right and wrong.

Ajith Prasad Balakrishnan said...

@Rahul -- Ofcourse I too believe that effective representative systems will be better..But under certain conditions, when the country is in a political turmoil, its not easy to put a representative system in place.. There are some interesting examples in history where dictatorship has worked better ( Turkey - Ataturk's rule ) ..Or maybe, even the present Russia - Vladimir Putin ( & Medvedev now ) is doing a fantastic job..But, its more of a managed democracy i believe.. A true political & representative system might be the better one, but you can't just put it like that in place..The environment too should be matured/supportive :)

@GWBE -- Lets see :) . Reached K today

Ajith Prasad Balakrishnan said...

@ Vinay -- Check my reply to Rahul's comment... Even I'm not saying Mush is the best..But its better than an incompetent combine of parties of all sorts thats existing there i think.

@Paro -- Thanks :)

@Deepak -- Point taken :) I think I need to do more thinking with respect to this..But all these comes out of how we regard our life, what should we strive to achieve , place of God etc etc..all are kind of interconnected..Anyway, good that you are thinking that way :)

Chellu said...

A good one.Could relate to a few.But I would totaly disagree with # 4.I dont think there needs to be ups and downs and just because u had some bad phase in phase you will defintly have a good phase.
I do think u can score well in the HR paper :P

Nikhil Narayanan said...

Been through similar(worse)times.

"Its important to fail at some point(s) in life. Because,that itself is an experience.. That teaches you how to bounce back..how to correct yourself. And you should have the guts to admit a failure."

And it is better one finishes off failure faster/earlier so that one can have a happy lap.

One chillara paisa gyaan from me:

Respect people,how ever lousy,irritating,rich,poor they are..Listen to their arguments.May be this is an extension of your DCH point.

Ajith Prasad Balakrishnan said...

@Bhadra -- Opinion taken .. I knew you would disagree to that point :) .
HR paper, lets see..Already feeling sleepy in classes :)

@Nikhil -- I dont expect a happy lap..But, even if the lap is tough, initial experiences would have accustomed you to adjust/fight it.

Anonymous said...

good read..:-)
i didnt know there was a philosopher inside you..;)

how are the classes treating you?..\
- rat

Anurag said...

too long a post yaar...nahi padh paaya poora...but this is wat happens whenever someone leaves job to go back to school...a long senti mail...which is gonna come again when u leave school to come back to job :o)
enjoy dude

Anonymous said...

I'm only sorry I didnt get time to read this post earlier. Some very good points that I totally agree with.

My favourite was #5. Hope keeps us all alive. As in, I hope to reach that level where money cant bring me satisfaction ;) I hope to plan and dont mind if I fail cause I'd like to be optimistic. I hope to enjoy my present and try not to regret anything.

Narayanan K said...

good post, some of the points are those which you have already expresses in your blog.

2. is partially true I guess. I consider the perfect situation to be doing work for which you are living. if your work becomes the purpose of your life, you will attain satisfaction.

3.Quite true.
4. Wow, hope is important but faith is more important. faith need not be in GOD, but in yourself. Read some Vivekananda, he talks a lot about faith. :-)

6,7 ., quite true.

8. Harsh bHogle talks abt this in his address to IIMA Graduates. Quite meaningful.
11. I think by 'No regrets', people are more optimistic. regretting is more a pessimistic/negative way of thought. Its true that you might have done something wrong, but there is no reasson to cry over spilt milk.


Sreejith Panickar said...

Good points, and well defined too Ajith...

Good warnig note in the beginning.. :P

Ajith said...

I completely agree with all your points.

Regarding the Job satisfaction point, people tend to feel that the grass is greener on the other side. If someone changes company just for a few percentage hike in CTC, they are putting their careers at stake. It will not look good on their CV.

point 3 - Most of the people want to be in the 'lime light' coz its very important that you should be 'visible' to the management when it comes to an upward movement. I would nt say its wrong, however it should not be done by bitching about others or flirting with the managers :)

Point 4 - Very sensitive point, I feel exactly the same. Some of the points which Atheists made in debates after the recent incidents featuring godmen, were spot on.

point12 - Interesting observation and correct as well. Autocratic rulers tend to have better focus than democratic rulers. Probably they will get more time than their democratic counterparts coz they dont have to fight the war within their party and can take decisions of their own. However I dont think India will ever have an autocratic rule like pakistan.

Serendipity said...

Agree with almost everything and 10 rocks :D

7 is absolutely true. I am now open to a career even in boutique consulting :D

Ajith said...