Generation Gap

  All of us grow up in age. But, do we necessarily grow up in life. May be not. I am reminded of an incident, which happened in my life almost two decades back. In India, we have a tradition that when we visit our family or friends during a festival, we buy gifts for them. I was visiting my sister in Delhi to be with her family for Diwali. I decided to go and buy clothes for my sister’s family. So, I went out to the nearest market with my brother in law and my nephew to buy clothes for them. I finished all the purchases. The only one left was for my nephew, who was a teenager. We went up and down many shops. If I chose a blue striped shirt, my nephew would reject it and if he chose a red shirt, I would reject. This happened a few times and then I and my brother in law got fed up. So, I told my nephew that my budget for his gift was Rs 500 and he could take it and buy it himself later. He politely agreed but turned around wanted to share some thing with me. I nodded. He said, if you don’t mind uncle, why don’t you accept that there is a generation gap between us ( myself and his father) and him. Our interests need not necessarily match with his interests. If blue striped shirt was our choice, he could prefer a bright red one and there was nothing wrong. This hit me hard like a slap on my face. I realised that I did not recognise the gap in our generations and I was steadfastly imposing my views on them.

  This was a turning point in my life. I was used to choose clothes for my kids too. But from then on, I only allocated a budget, which I could afford and then let them decide for themselves. In my view, this a good lesson to grow up in life. It may happen to us at home and at work.

   If I look at the work life, I can share another interesting incident. This time I was learning to respect the wishes and interests of a generation older than me. I was posted in a factory and my room was facing a beautiful garden. I decided to turn my table and put my chair in a such a way that I could admire the greenery of the garden. My seniors ( CEO & CFO) came to my room and personally lifted the table and chair and put it back in its original direction. When I told them that I was keen in admiring the garden, they told me that as per Vaastu( Indian science for architecture) that was not ok. As far as possible managers and leaders should face the north while sitting in office and hence I cannot change the direction of my table and chair since it would face south. I was not a great believer of Vaastu at that stage of my career, but I respected the belief of my seniors and reluctantly accepted their advice. Today, if Ilook back I realize there is science in Vaastu and hence may be they had reasons for their choices.

   My learning from both the above incidents is that we have to respect the views of all generations and have the humility to accept that their view could be different than yours. It could be from a generation younger than you or older than you. That does not matter. What matters is our ability to respect the views of all generations and our magnanimity to accept and adopt it. Of course, we could agree to disagree also.

   It is time to realise that we could learn from all generations and the earlier we realise it the faster we grow up in life.

  S Ramesh Shankar