All of us go through crests and troughs in our lives. It is easier to deal with a crest rather than a trough in our life. When you are down and out, it looks as if it happens only to you and nobody else. You feel as if God is unfair and biased against you.
I had two such experiences and would like to share my learning. The first was personal and the second work related. In both cases, it took me over a year to bounce back. But, if I look back, it is worth it. Life is full of possibilities and it is our ability to bounce back, which helps us make the best out of it.
The first instance was when I lost both my parents by the age of 25. My mother died in her sleep due to a heart ailment when I was 23. My father died two years later due to a kidney failure. As a young aspiring professional, who had just started his career three years back I also had a dream of taking care of my parents, who had sacrificed their lives to bring us up. But my destiny was determined otherwise. I was shattered because of losing both of them within a span of two years. I did all I could to save my father but God had other plans. I was religious by nature. But this tragedy made me lose my faith in God. I could not believe God could be so cruel to me. I stopped going to temples and became a recluse. It took me a year to realise that everyone loses their parents at some stage of life and one has to accept it as a reality. This incident made me tougher to face the realities of life. It made me bolder and more resilient in the future.
Another incident in my work life taught me a good lesson in life. I had completed eight years of my service in my first organization and was doing very well. I got promoted twice and was almost sure of getting promoted that year. I used to work hard and was considered a professional with good potential. This was what I was made to believe by all my immediate superiors till then during my annual performance feedback. The year was 1988 and as the announcement of promotions were made my name was missing. Not only was I not promoted but I was superseded by a junior colleague. This jolted my confidence and my belief that you need to work hard and give your best and leave the rest to your manager to judge. I lost faith in myself and my organization. I lost faith in my beliefs and values. I started wondering whether it was worthwhile to work hard and give your best without expecting anything in return. It took me more than a year to bounce back. I was promoted the next year but did not rejoice. But after one year I realised that if you are the best in whatever you do, no force on earth can ignore you. If your colleagues and customers believe you deliver the best, no manager can underestimate you. You have to continue to excel as you have no control on the people who judge you.
These two incidents in my life taught me to fight back. It is easier to look back and reflect. It is easier to write about these incidents and share my learnings from it. It is much more difficult to go through troughs in your own life and bounce back. It takes courage to bounce back but it is worth it. It takes patience to reflect but it is fruitful.
It is incidents like these which test your patience and strengthens your resolve to fight back. If you are able to look back and reflect, it may be the motivation for you to bounce back in life. After all , we always give our best , when we are most challenged.
I learnt through these two experiences that I will “never give up” in life. It does not matter if it takes a year or sometimes even more to bounce back. After all life flows on and we have to move on and give our best to look at the future.
S Ramesh Shankar