Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Your mirage is not your father's horizon

Recently, someone on my professional network got in touch for some advice. It is as you may imagine in the litany of woes, that first comes as a statement of need, but hides the deeper need within. Seldom does the first expressions of requests for professional help, get to the real issue. The presenting issue and the latent issue at the core are different. This time though, I am writing about the content because it is hugely disconcerting to know that fellow professionals reach out for help and struggle to articulate their situation for what it is. To commence with,  brief narrations of the days gone by.
Caselet 1 : She was aspiring to learn under some industry greats, with a veteran in influential governance of the firm itself, and a heard name in the industry reporting to him as functional head. Both were PhDs and that mattered to the aspiring professional. But all the new joinee got in an apparently ‘global’ exposure role was a transactional overdose with a bully attitude in the  functional head. With not much to ‘learn’ as it were, she wanted a way out of the rather stifling situation, including opting out of thecity itself. Relocation was stated to be small price for overcoming this disillusionment. The tipping point as it were came, when the aspirant was accused of being from a lesser than A grade institutional pedigree.
 Issue : How can she face up to a bully at work, without giving up on her professional aims?
Caselet 2 : In another instance, a bundle of enthusiasm is struggling to re-enter a vocation after a rather unlucky attempt at the civil services. In this case, the person not only rose up the ranks, but also got through to a premier institution for a management education. After being selected from B-School to a prosperous industrial house for an ambitious project, the venture ran out of steam, and the lad was summarily re-assigned to a role he was not trained for. Then he joined another set of companies and did the grind only to find the thrill was gone. Assuming civil services to be the route to salvation, he has resigned to the advent of time after failing to clear the entrance exams. On presenting his credentials, no employer he has approached has been favouring his zest for life, let alone brisk learning in volatility. He is earning his bread teaching young students to fare well in their competitive exams.
Issue: How can he orient himself to a society that does not appreciate downturns in business and careers as passing phases or crucibles that can be leveraged for success?
So what is it that bothers me? What can similarly challenged professionals do to cope?
  1. In India, irrespective of gender, it is not perceived as honorable or normal to voice displeasure, discomfort or sheer victimization. SPEAK FROM YOUR HEART, ALRIGHT; BUT APPEAL TO YOUR SENSES, NEVER MIND THE UNCERTAINTY.
  2. When in this vortex like grip of an emotional downturn, clarity is not only the casualty – it is also the mirage. OTHERS KNOW FROM A FEW OBSERVATIONS WHAT YOU WILL NOT IN YOUR MILLION SIGHTS. THE EYES CANNOT SEE THEMSELVES.
  3. A zillion words from a few hundred people cannot assuage your feelings as the voice that comes from within you. ENERGISE YOUR PURPOSE in LIFE, BECAUSE ENERGY FEEDS ON ENERGY – YOUR ENERGY.
  4. If you feel you are not the one to sign your father’s tax returns’ will it prevent you from speaking your wealth of truth to him fearing that you may upset him? NO MATTER WHAT, BULLIES DRAW THEIR POWER FROM YOUR SUBMISSION TO THEIR NEED FOR PITY. DISEMPOWER THE BULLY WITH A CALM VOICE, UNHURRIED FREEDOM AND YOUR DISARMING SMILE. This may need practice, but what is your current option anyway?
  5. Even though they may not know it, the ‘idiots’ you have to work with may be your best teachers, with lessons coming at you faster than your preparedness to fail. While the process is mutual, this point is reserved for the traditionally rigid and orthodox boss. YOU DON’T HAVE TO PUB YOUR WAY TO YOUR TEAM MEMBERS’ HEARTS. SHOW THEM THEIR HEARTS MATTER WITH YOUR ACTIONS THAT IMPACT THEIR EMPLOYABILITY. AVOID screaming AT THEM.
It is as you may well agree, not a singular view that describes our composite reality. What is your experienced reality in such respects? Do our generations need to meet each other? Do they want to understand each other after all?