Can work be fun ?

One of the questions I have often been asked in my career is -“How to enjoy your work ? The answer is simple. If you know what you enjoy and do that as your work, then its easy to enjoy your work. This is the most difficult in life. First to understand -“What you enjoy ? And second to get to work in that space, which you enjoy.

I was recently watching a video of two pilots who have been grounded by an international airline. They have taken up alternative employment as bus drivers. One of the drivers during the course of an interview actually said – “If you enjoy your work, you don’t actually work, do you ? This was an inspirational statement and made me think. That statement inspired me to write this blog.

In life, it is possibly easier to know what you don’t like rather than what you enjoy. It is important to realise that this is a challenge for all of us. Some of us get it earlier than others. I know of some people, who changed the course of their career almost in their mid careers and there is nothing wrong with that.

Quite a few years back I was reading an article in the Harvard Business Review which was titled – “ Job Sculpting”, where the author beautifully explains this concept. The author explains that we need to keep sculpting our jobs till we feel we found our choice. It is possibly like the sculptor keeps chipping till she feels that she has made the best sculpture.

The authors go on to explain how people in different vocations around the world have found their calling at different stages of their career. I remember the standing out example in that article was that of a software programmer who spend more than two decades in programming and suddenly during a holiday on the coast realised that he enjoyed being a coach for skiing much more than anything else he did in his career till then. So, he quits his job as a programmer after two decades and undergoes a coaching course for skiing and then evolves as a coach.

We may not know or realise what we enjoy. If we put in some efforts we may but we should not be afraid if we do not. The day we realise and understand what we enjoy then it would be great if we can explore our career in that space. For eg. if I enjoy travelling and I am working as a HR manager in a factory, it may worthwhile to explore if I could become a travel guide or even a travel blogger. That way I would work in an area, which gives me maximum joy.

While some of us may find it easy to get to work in an area of our choice, some of us may be stuck to vocations we don’ like for reasons beyond our control. But, it may still be worthwhile to find the right time and place to take a break and do what you enjoy. This way work becomes joy and not work anymore.

I love travelling and writing. So if I have to start my career all over again I possibly would love to be a travel writer.

This may be easier to write about than actually try out. But most things in life are not easy to accomplish unless we are willing to take it as a challenge and do it. Our work and career is also one such thing. If we enjoy what we do then work is sheer fun. If we don’t, then every day looks longer than the previous day at work and even our health gets impacted in this process.

It is time to challenge ourselves and discover what we enjoy. If work is fun and we enjoy it, it is no longer work for us.

Do you agree ?

S RameshShankar

9th November 2020

 

Celebrate what’s right in the world…

I have met many people in my life who are born to crib. They start their complaining process from sunrise and don’t stop till they sleep. Everything appears wrong in the world for them. Interestingly they do not realise that although birth or death is not in our hands but “choice of the way we live” is in ours.

Imagine a world full of possibilities. A world full of hope and aspirations. If one can enjoy the sunrise, the song of birds, the greenery around us, the smile of family and friends, life would be joyful. Why do many of us look at life the other way around. I honestly do not know why but some of us choose to be unhappy even when there are reasons to be happy.

I have always believed life is full of opportunities and it upto us to open them up for ourselves. Of course, there would be challenges along the way but if we are afraid of them, then life would not be wholesome. It is like a trekker to Mount Everest has to go through a lot of hardship – physical and mental but is always looking forward to scale the peak and launch her or his national flag on top of the world.

On the other hand, the world of cribbers is full of doom and gloom. They see no light at the end of the tunnel as they believe the sun would set before they reach there. They forget that the same sun will rise red and bright the very next day if they are willing to spend the night over at the tunnel enjoying the darkness.

I have met fascinating people around the world in all walks of life. They make every day enjoyable for them. They may not be the wealthiest or the happiest in the true sense of the word but they know how make life fun for them. Even when you are on a highway with a flat tyre, we have a choice. We can curse everyone saying “why me ?” Or celebrate the change of stepnee with a hot cup of coffee and a well deserved break on a long haul.

God has given us enough reasons to celebrate life. It is we who have not tapped all the resources around us or enjoyed every moment the way we could. If we recall our childhood, we did celebrate every day as if it was our last day on earth. They why can’t we rekindle the child in us to enjoy every moment every day.

Why do we need to find fault and increase our blood pressure rather than laugh it out and be healthy ? We always have a choice in every phase of life. It is upto us to live the way we want to. Why do we need to blame the rains for missing a game ? Why cannot we enjoy a steaming cup of coffee and enjoy the rains and take a well deserved break from our game.

As in the photo above, I have celebrated life during the lockout by playing badminton, watching record movies, serials, learning photography and doing what I enjoy most nowadays – writing endless blogs or watching the sun rise and enjoying its splendour in the hills.

The positive attitude to life and living is upto us. We can create infectious hope in people or pour water over high aspirations of others. Our positivity not only makes us healthy but also ensures that everyone is looking forward to our company.

Let us resolve to celebrate every minute of our life from today.

S Ramesh Shankar

17th August 2020

 

Life is all about attitude & gratitude

I have always been wondering as to how I could define life in simple terms. The other day a friend of mine summarised my article and stated that “Life is all about attitude & gratitude”. I felt it was a great insight and so this blog is an attempt to understand life from this beautiful perspective.

If we reflect and rewind our life, we may realise that life is indeed all about attitude and gratitude. The difference between the best and the rest is always attitude. We can look at any walk of life from academics to sports, art to culture and music and we find that the best of talents master that area because of their attitude to learn and share with others. The day they feel that have reached their peak, their decline begins. But the best never rest and hence always conquer newer heights of excellence every day in their lives.

The second quality of masters of all crafts is that they are always grateful to the people who have made them what they become in life. They will never forget their gurus, parents or friends who were with them in the arduous journey of life before they become icons in their respective fields.

We thus can easily summarise that life is after all about attitude and gratitude. If we recall our own lives, we realise that the best people we have met so far have always had a positive and infectious attitude. They spread positivity through their thoughts and their actions. Secondly, they never forget the people on their way to success in life. They remember the people, who supported them through the thick and thin of their life journey.

It may be worthwhile to understand these two key terms – “attitude” and “gratitude” in life. “Attitude” is our way of looking at life in every way. We all have a choice at every stage of our life and almost every single day. We can choose to be happy, sad or mad. It is upto us to convert every crisis as a learning opportunity. It is upto us to be grateful for all that we have rather than keep cribbing about some things we don’t have.

If we start believing in ourselves and think life is a journey of multiple possibilities, then we have varied options to choose from. On the other hand, if we we think that life is an endless journey of despair moving from one crisis to another, then our life seems that way. After all we need to realise that everyone goes through ups and downs in life. There is always a sun rise after every sunset. It may be worthwhile to learn from our failures as much as we may bask in our successes.

The second term to understand is “gratitude”. I would say “gratitude”is our ability to bow in reverence to every single person who has contributed to our journey of life. If we remember all the people who have supported us directly or indirectly in our lives especially after we have reached our peak of success, it will help us understand the meaning of gratitude in life. While many of us are willing to share our success as our gift of hard work, we may forget the silent contributors, who stood by us when the world looked the other way.

If we have a positive attitude in life and are grateful for all that we are blessed with, God will keep us smiling always as in the photo above.

The essence of life is our ability to look at life as full of choices we can make and our eagerness to be indebted to the people who made us what we are today. The day we realise these two basic tenets of life, we may have arrived. There can be no peak we cannot surmount and no goal we cannot achieve in our lives.

Life is all about attitude and gratitude.

Let us realise it today.

S Ramesh Shankar

5th August 2022

When will I be happy ?

I have always wondered as to why do I remain unhappy most of the time. I regret my past, crib about the present and dream about the future. I do not realize that neither can I change the past, nor redefine the present. If I only dream about the future, it is likely to become the present sooner than I realize it.

Life is a journey. We need to learn to live each day as if today is the last day of our lives. Why waste time in regretting the past, which is far behind us. Why wonder and dream about a future which is still uncertain ? Is it not a good idea to live the present to the full. Enjoy each day as if it was made to be that way.

While it may be easy to state the obvious, I wonder why many of us live life this way. We spend most of the time regretting about our past or wondering about the future. In this process, we forget to live the present. Is it worth spending time on things we cannot change. Is it not better to enjoy today and create a future of our choice.

The day I realise that my past may not help me create my future, I may be one step towards enjoying the present. Living life every day my way will make me happier. I need to realise that I am wasting my life worrying about my past or wondering about my future.

I also have to realise that life is not joyful if I live in relative terms. I need to learn to live life in absolute terms. I have to be happy and grateful for what I have rather than what I don’t have. I spend most of the time wondering why some others have more than me. In this process I sometimes forget what all I have which many others don’t have in life.

I need to live life on my own terms. I have a right to dream and work hard to make that dream a reality. Just dreaming is not good enough. The harder I work, the chances of my dreams becoming a reality is more. Most of the time I dream of the future and wonder why I cannot be like someone else. My life is wasted in envying others and feeling negative about life without living it and enjoying it myself.

We can achieve what we want in life, the day we are willing to forget the past, be grateful for the present and be willing to toil for the future. We could be happy and content in life.

I also need to realise that my life is in my hands. If I spend time blaming my family, friends or fate for my destiny, it is my problem. I cannot blame anyone for my life and the way I live it. This is my biggest lesson to live life happily every day.

As in the photo above, a child can teach you to enjoy life every moment without regretting the past or wondering about the future.

Today I realise that I need to live life one day at a time. I need to learn to forget the past, enjoy the present and create my future through my dreams followed by working hard towards my goals.

Time to start enjoying life is today. What do you think ?

S Ramesh Shankar

31st January 2021

Born to Crib…

We meet some people in our lives who crib for everything . They seem to look at life as an opportunity to blame others all the time. They may even cry as to why the sun rises in the east and sets in the west and not the other way around.

I find this attitude of people very amusing. In my view, they not only make their own life miserable but makes life horrible for all the people around them. One meets such people in all walks of life. If you are unlucky, you may have one of them in your family itself. They do exist in organisations and even as neighbours in communities.

If you look at their typical day, they look for opportunities to crib. They may blame the toothbrush or paste for tooth decay. They may find fault in their spouse for making a bad cup of coffee. They find no nutrition in their breakfast. As they leave home for work, they find everyone around them violating traffic rules while they themselves may not stop at traffic signals.

At the work place, if the security guard wishes them “ Good Morning”, they may ask what is good about the morning ? Then as they settle in their seat, if their customer calls them complaining about an issue, they may shout back without realising that their action could make the organisation lose a customer.

In their world view, they are perfect in everything they do but find everyone around them as useless or not doing their duties. They are critical of everyone in the family itself. Most family members generally tend to ignore them as they cannot avoid them if they live in the same premises.

In organisations, sometimes they may be excellent individual contributors but nobody wants them in their team. They dissipate the energy of the team with their attitude and behaviour. They always looks at work and life as glass half empty. They always believe that they are filling the glasses while others around are busy emptying them.

I have met them in my family circles, friends and as colleagues at work. I have tried to influence them many a time to change their attitude to life. While it takes a lot of your own positive energy to change their attitude, you should be aware that they are capable of converting you into a negative person in return.

Organisations, communities and individuals have a responsibility to influence these individuals and convert them into positive personalities. It is not not only good for them but all the people around them. Their negativity can kill their own health apart from impacting others the wrong way.

I should clarify that all of us tend to crib at something or the other. The problem is when you crib at everything and not at something in life. When cribbing because a part your day to day habits and integral part of your life, that is when we need to work on it.

We need to learn from the snail as in the photo above and move on in life and never consider it has a full stop. The snail although slow and steady but never stops.

Even if each of us take responsibility of influencing one negative and cribbing individual in our lives, it will make a positive difference to everybody’s life. It will transform them, communities and societies at large.

Let each one influence one.

S Ramesh Shankar

7th October 2020

I

I am responsible

We are in the midst of a worldwide crisis. It is a pandemic impacting every nook and corner of the world. It started about a year and a half ago and does not seem to be ending soon. We in India fought the first wave quite well but our ability to anticipate the more treacherous second wave was not good enough.

Today, we see people suffering in every nook and corner of the country. It looks like almost every other family is impacted by this deadly virus. While statistics may look different to different people, the real impact is on the family which is facing the brunt even if it is the only family in that town, city or community.

We have had a lot of criticism of the way it has been handled by everyone. We are blaming the central government, the state government and even the experts from the healthcare industry for this state of affairs. Whichever end of the political spectrum we belong to we are willing to blame the party in power without knowing how much everyone knew or could anticipate this second wave.

While it may be easy to write about it or criticise it, (having been an administrator for almost four decades I can say with confidence ) it may be more difficult to anticipate or manage it as an administrator. So, the next question is , what do we do about it. I would recommend the following steps to deal with this situation :

A. Let the governments at the centre and state do whatever best they can in the current circumstances. Let us support their efforts without being critical of every action since I am not sure if we could have done better even if we were in their seats of power.

B. Let us take responsibility for our actions – wearing masks, keeping distance and washing hands everywhere we go

C. Let us take charge of our family and friends whom we can directly influence.

D. If we are large hearted, let us take responsibility for the community we live in to ensure compliance to all the guidelines prescribed by the government.

E. Let us be more responsible in not posting anything negative or creating false panic by forwarding messages on social media etc.

I believe if we are willing to do the above, the crisis will be under control sooner than later.

As in the photo above, this child is taking responsibility for his behaviour even standing on a beach. If a child can do it, why not we.

The most important step is that I take responsibility for the conduct and compliance of myself, my family and my community. If each of us are willing to do this, then we make the task for the governments easier.

Let us start now.

S Ramesh Shankar

26th April 2021

Despite all odds …

I have met people in different walks of life, who have succeeded despite of all odds against them in their lives. All of us face ups and downs in life. Some of us are willing to take it into our stride, while others buckle under pressure. What are the key characteristics of people, who are winners despite all odds ?

I will first share stories of some people I have met in my life or read about them to understand them better. Then we will try to look at the key personality traits of these people so that we can learn from them.

The first story which comes to my mind is that of young daughter of a constable in Tamil Nadu. She grew up in a remote town named Dindigul and fought against all possible restrictions to educate her self. Being a constable’s daughter she could not think of prestigious schools or colleges. But she pursued her dream of making it to the Indian Police Service by her sheer determination and hard work. She was ably supported by her parents and today she is serving the country in another state as an Indian Police Service Officer. Her real name is N Ambika and she is DCP at Mumbai today.

My second story is that of a tribal woman from Jharkhand. She also found it very difficult even to go to school. In spite of excellent academic credentials she could pursue her studies only in vernacular medium as she was not admitted in good schools. She scored 100% in mathematics but was discouraged to pursue her graduation in the same although she was passionate about it. Yesterday, I read that she has been appointed the Vice Chancellor of a University in the same state. Her real name is Sonajharia Minz and she is the Vice Chancellor of Sido Kanha Murmu University ( SKMU) in Dumka, Jharkhand.

The third story is that of a colleague of mine in my first organisation SAIL. His name is Koilvaram. He passed out his school in Tirunveli district of Tamil Nadu and then proceeded to Bhilai in search of a job. Those days most of us learnt typing or shorthand since it was easier to get a job as a typist or a stenographer. He started his career as a stenographer. Then pursued his graduation and post graduation through evening classes on his own earnings and then completed cost accountancy course too. He did not stop there. He applied and became a management trainee along with us in 1981 through his own efforts. He then learnt IT and moved to the insurance sector and held senior positions. Today he is working with the state of California in San Fransico. He has migrated and settled with his family in USA for many years now ( as in the photo above).

What do these stories teach us ? Nothing can stop us from achieving anything in life if we are willing to work hard for it. We need to pursue our passion with perseverance and never give up. Some of the learnings from these stories about the key qualities of these people are :

A. They have a dream and they pursue it till they make it a reality

B. They are willing to face any challenges in the journey of their pursuit.

C. They work hard and make up for their limitations and not go about complaining to everyone what they don’t have.

D. Dogged determination may be the key to their success.

E. Our limitations are more in our mind than in reality.

I have learnt a lot from such people in life. It has helped to face all challenges with a smile. We have many such unsung heroines and heroes all around us. It is for us to get inspired from them and imbibe their learnings.

Life is like a highway and we can keep driving if we want to and reach our destination without complaining about bad roads or the weather or traffic if we make up our mind to do it.

Lets start our drive today.

S Ramesh Shankar

31st May 2020

Full of life…

I have a met people in different parts of the world, who are always full of life. Nothing can or will impact their happiness in life. They live life as if today is the last day in their lives. They are positive about everything around them. They never give up on anything and face any challenge in life with a smile.

They are infectious with their positivity. They rub it on people around them. If you are in their company, you will feel a special energy flowing through you. You will experience optimism flow through you. Everything will seem possible and doable for you.

The question before us is how do they develop this attitude in life. Is it inborn or can it be developed ? I do not know the answer. But, I do believe that it can be developed if we are willing to believe in ourselves and in the potential of others.

I believe that for everything in life there are only two possibilities. One is -“ I can” and the second is -“I can’t “. Once I decide “I can”, I will find all ways and means to achieve my goal. If I decide, “I can’t”, I will try to find out all the excuses for not being able to achieve my goal. This happens in life and also in organisations.

This category of people always believe ‘ “They can”. They are always willing to take up any challenge and will give it their best. They never give up and are willing to lead or follow others as the situation demands. They will never crib and never complain about anything in life. They do not aspire for any power in life nor do they want credit for their contributions. They enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

One lesson we could learn from this category of people is that the key to happiness in life is to enjoy the journey of life. Most of us are so focussed on the results that we fail to enjoy the process. We live everyday as if it is a ritual. We are happy only when we achieve major milestones in life. On the other hand, these people celebrate life every day. The sun rising or the moon setting is a cause for celebration in their lives. For normal mortals like us, we tend to believe that the sun has to rise and set every day and so the moon. We fail to realise the joy of celebrating every moment of life.

Gratitude is another quality worth emulating from these folks. They tend to be ever grateful to life and everyone around them. They believe always life has been a gift for them. They are sure that people around them are there to always helps them. Their attitude to life and living is so positive that people around them find that they have no choice but to be good to them.

This seems to be the fundamental difference between them and most of us. We believe that we are the saviours of the world, atleast most of the time. We believe that our family, friends and colleagues cannot survive without us. On the contrary these people live life for others. They believe they succeed because of others. They are always thankful to family, friends and colleagues for their accomplishments in life.

So, the choice is simple. We need to just flip our beliefs and retune our attitude to life. Live for others rather than oneself. If we give more, we get more. If we spread happiness, we cannot but be happy in life. If we see joy every day in our lives, life is a wonderful gift.

As in the photo above, it is kids who can teach us this valuable lesson in life to be happy.

Life is the way we live it. Let us believe from today our life is full of possibilities. It is upto us to make it happen.

S Ramesh Shankar

30th May 2020

What happens when someone takes the credit for your work in an organisation ?

A young aspiring professional called me up early morning today.  He looked very much worked up.  When I asked him for the reasons for his anxiety, he explained how some of his seniors were taking away all the credit for the hard work he puts in at work every day.

This is not an uncommon situation especially for youngsters starting their career in an organisation.  Interestingly, you see and experience this phenomenon in all professions.  Today, it is easy for me to write about it and share my views.  When I went through the same experience, it was one of the biggest challenges at the beginning of my career.

When you experience it as a young professional, you feel betrayed.  You feel frustrated and sometimes feel like bashing up the senior who takes away all the credit for your hard work.  As you grow up in the organisation , you realise that you are not alone to face this type of challenge.  It is faced by many and almost in all professions.  A senior lawyer may win a case based on the arguments and efforts of his junior and take all the credit for the victory.  A senior doctor may do the same while treating a patient.

In organisations, we see senior leaders taking the credit for presentations made to other stakeholders, which were never prepared by them.  Sometimes, they take the credit for articles never written by them.  While it makes you feel bad, it is not uncommon to say the least.

The question is how do you deal with it in your career, when it happens to you.  At the first instance, it may be a good idea to vent out your feelings to someone  near and dear to you.  This may make you feel lighter and better after this bitten experience in your career.

Then you need to settle down and realise that you are not alone.  It is important not to get distracted by such phenomenon.  I remember an incident when a senior of mine tried to present my case in front of the Chief Executive in one of the organisations I worked.  He was trying to take the credit for my work in front of the CEO.  However, when the CEO asked a few clarifications on the case, he had to call me in and he was embarrassed when the CEO asked if I had prepared the case.

We always need to believe that “Excellence” is a journey and never a destination.  The leaders who try to take the credit for the work of their juniors have limitations and they do expose their limitations by such frivolous behaviour.  They get exposed sooner than later when they make this a habit to take credit for others ‘ work.

As  I said earlier, it is not easy to deal with a situation like this especially when you experience this yourself in the beginning of your career.  As you grow up in your career, you realise that people can take credit for your work but can never take away your value to the organisation.  Each individual brings a certain value and this can never be stolen by others.

This nature of some leaders to take credit for others’ work reflects their limitation rather than yours.  They get exposed sooner than later in front of other employees or other stakeholders.  One does not need to put in any extra efforts to expose them since they expose themselves because of the lack of depth in the subject they take credit for others’ work. Of course, the time taken for them to be exposed may vary and this could add to the frustration of employees.  But my experience teaches me that it happens sooner than you believe as long as you are willing to always give your best and let them expose themselves in the process.

As in the photo above, while a captain can take away the credit for his team’s victory, everybody in the team and even the spectators know who deserves the credit for that win.

I would continue to focus on excellence and let these impostors expose themselves rather than waste my energy and time trying to figure out why they do so. I would want to focus on my strengths rather than their weaknesses.

Let us always remember that “Mediocrity will never recognise Excellence”.

S Ramesh Shankar

27th May 2020

Expressions…

“Face is the index of the mind” is an an old saying. It is more than true. There is a lot of research to confirm that more than 70% of human communication happens through non verbal means. This means our expressions speak more than our words.

The best opportunity to learn from expressions is from the kids. They can express the entire spectrum of emotions of the human kind in more ways than one. None of us need to learn to speak to a child to understand their emotions. However, as we grow up we tend to forget to express ourselves

Alternatively, we are conditioned by the environment around us and our own belief systems that expressing oneself is immature or childish. In my view, this may be the beginning of the end of joy in our lives. A child emotes without any reason. Children express in every way they can. Emoting oneself appropriately not only may secrete good hormones in the body but keeps you happy always.

If we look back, our childhood was the best period of our lives, when we unconditionally expressed ourselves. As we grow into an adolescent , we tend to restrain ourselves, which then results in rebellious behaviour. Growing into an adult we stop emoting altogether. We think it is not mature enough to share our emotions with others.

The “adult” in us over rules the child. Every time we feel like laughing, crying or screaming, we regulate our behaviour to try to do the opposite. This may sometimes end up in awkward reactions in different situations. For eg. we may laugh when we are supposed to cry or the other way around. This is because the world around us conditions us on what is right and what is wrong.

The right and wrong emotions are not determined by our heart as it should normally be but how people react around us. If people may laugh at our crying, then we do not. If someone objects to our laughing we tend it to keep it ourselves.

We need to challenge ourselves. We need to live our emotions the way we want to. People who emote unconditionally are the people who have no blood pressure. If we forget to share our emotions, we may forget to cry, laugh or get angry.

If we condition ourselves too much, we may to tend to contradict ourselves. Our emotions will not reflect our true feeling inside. This may be easily be misunderstood and we may end up in conflicts with others around us.

It is time to rekindle the child in us. It is time to express ourselves the way we want to. Let us not be be guided by the reactions of others. Let us be guided by our own gut feelings. We need to learn to be true to ourselves. This may be the best way to live life fully.

Let us interact with children around us and learn from them. It is never too late to learn. Every child can teach us to live life the way we need to live. So what if we have forgotten the basics of life. It is time to look back to move forward sometimes.

Let us learn to express ourselves.

S Ramesh Shankar

15th Oct 2020