Looking back or Moving forward

It is that time of the year when the Christmas carols can be heard. The end of a calendar year and the beginning of a brand new year. We look back to move forward. All of us love to reflect on the past year and build hope for the next year. We are happy of some events and regret others while we look back. We are optimistic about the future and hence wish the new year brings joy and happiness to all of us.

It may be a good idea to look back. But, what should we look back at. We need to realise that looking back and being grateful to people, who have contributed to our success in the previous year may be a good idea. It may be worthwhile to feel happy about some of our key accomplishments during the year. It may be worthwhile to learn from some of the mistakes we may have committed in the previous year.

But many of us tend to spend more time looking back then moving forward. This is what we need to guard against. It is like driving a car looking at the rear view mirror. The rear view mirror is very helpful when we need to reverse or when we need to overtake someone on the road. It is not possible to drive a car on the highway by only looking at the rear view mirror. We need to look at the windscreen and anticipate what is coming in front of us and how the road is twisting and turning before us.

It may be a better idea to move forward rather than looking back at all times. We need to believe in ourselves. We need to realise that there would always be a sunrise after a sunset. We need to hope that tomorrow would be better than yesterday and today. It is like most of us do not spend time in planning for an event. We spend more time in fixing issues while an even is occurring in our lives.

It is better to plan and foresee the future. It is better to dream and anticipate change. It is fun to hope and aspire for the upcoming year. We tend to spend more time in analysing what went wrong rather than anticipating what could happen in the future. It is this change in attitude, which would help us navigate change. It will help us anticipate and prepare for whatever is likely to happen.

I am a born optimist. I would prefer to spend less time analysing the past and more time in dreaming about the future. We cannot do much about what has happened in the past. But, we can create a future of our choice. While past is history, future is mystery, yet to explored. While history can teach us lessons, it may not be able to anticipate what is likely to happen. I would prefer to brood less about the past and dream more about the future.

I have learnt in my life that it is worthwhile to reflect on the past to learn for the future. But, if it is better to spend less time looking back then moving forward. The past will not necessarily lead us to the future. It is important to remember that we need to move on in life irrespective of what happened in the past. We need to cherish good memories but it may be worthwhile to spend more time in shaping our future.

As in the photo above, the peacock in the forest was not sure whether to look back or move forward.

Let us learn to drive our life by looking more at the front windshield rather than looking at the rear view mirror. I am by no means suggesting that we need not look back at the past. I am only recommending that looking ahead in life is more fruitful than brooding about the past. I am saying we need to learn to move ahead. The earlier we learn this lesson, the better we can anticipate the future of our life.

Lets move forward.

S Ramesh Shankar

Who is the ultimate judge ?

There have been many instances in my personal and work life when I have felt that I was misjudged.  Let us start from my personal life. As I grew up as a child, I felt I was scolded by my parents or teachers for no fault of mine.  It could be a simple incident wherein your younger sibling could have done some mischief but you are scolded by your parents as the elder one. Similarly in the class room your teacher may scold you for some nuisance created by your neighbouring classmate. In all such cases, you feel let down. 

The work situation is no different.  You give your best and feel that you have had a great year.  When the annual appraisal is done, your manager assesses you as below par.  All through the year, you are praised by everyone for your contributions – team members, colleagues and even seniors.  But, when the promotions are announced you are ignored or superseded.  You feel miserable and feel the whole system is unfair to you.

So, whether it is the work situation or your personal life, such instances occur in regular periodicity.   I have always wondered as to “Who is the ultimate judge ?”.Some may philosophically state it is God.  But, having experienced many such situations at work or my personal life, I feel the ultimate judge is our own conscience.  If we ask ourselves objectively, what is the answer you get – that is the ultimate truth.  What the world sees is extrinsic but what we see from within is intrinsic.

It is easier to look back and examine it objectively.  It is very difficult to go through a situation like this and digest it.  I have gone through at least three such situations in my work life and may be many in my personal life too.  Each time I have felt very bad and deeply hurt.  It has taken a lot of time to recover and bounce back.  But, each time, when I have asked my conscience, I have got the right answer.

Today, when I sit back and reflected on these moments of my life, I laughed at myself.  It may neither be easy to cry nor laugh at oneself.  But, when you reach a stage in life when such incidents can be taken in your stride, you start believing more in yourself.  One sure shot answer to judge yourself apart from your conscience may be the feedback you get from all the people around you other than the person, who has misjudged you.  If the majority opinion is similar to what your conscience states, there is nothing to regret.  On the contrary, the person making the wrong judgement may regret such a judgement on you some day.  After all they too have a conscience and it will tickle them some day to wake up .

Life is a journey of ups and downs.  Each incident teaches you something.  It is up to us to live through and learn from them. It may be easier to learn from the positive experiences rather than the negative ones.  It takes time to reflect on the negative experiences but when you are able to do it, it could teach you more than the positive ones.  It is like failures teach you more than successes in life.

Like in the photo above,  God does not necessarily exist in a puja room.  God is within us.  

Let us listen to our conscience every time we are in doubt on anything in our life.

S Ramesh Shankar

“Pole Star”


A young aspiring professional recently approached me to seek some guidance at work.  He was a bit agitated because he had more questions than answers to what he saw and felt on happenings around him at his workplace.  I think this is quite a common phenomenon amongst the youth today.

When a young professional starts his career after completing his education from a good university, he or she gives their best to grow faster than others in the organisation they join. They are willing to work hard and also contribute beyond what is expected from them. Their attitude to work is ” work hard and party harder”. I envy them for this attitude since I believe this lays the foundation for them in their career. It also helps them to strike a good balance between work and personal life.

This young man told me that he was happy to work hard and extend his contributions much beyond what is expected of him. However, what irritates him is when he sees other colleagues at work, who in his perception or qualified less but get paid almost equal if not more than him. What irks him more is that these colleagues do not work hard nor do they contribute as much as he does. I think this is a fair issue to be concerned with.

After listening to the frustrations and anger of this young guy, I shared some axioms of organisations and how performance is measured in them. The first premise is that your pedigree is only useful at the time of joining an organisation. After you enter the precincts of an organisation, it does not matter where you have studied from. What matters is what you bring to the table. If a person brings more value to the table than you, then that person would be assessed as a better contributor irrespective of which university he or she has come from.

The second axiom in organisations is that you need to prove your worth without comparing yourself to others. Many a time individuals tend to compare themselves with other co workers and make a judgement for themselves. Instead, individuals should be encouraged to talk to their managers about their goals, their aspirations, their development,  their achievements and their rewards. The moment we are able to de link ourselves from the rest of the colleagues, the feeling of disproportionate contributions of others and their rewards will not affect us and our motivation.  It is our duty to focus on our performance and trust the judgement and fairness of our manager whose job it is to compare and contrast our performance with our peers.

The third and the most important axiom for a young aspiring professionals to follow is to excel in whatever they do. If you are the best in what you do, you can never be ignored by anyone in the organisation, least your boss. Sometimes, you may feel let down but patience and perseverance is the key to excel. It may even be a good idea to strive to better yourself with every passing day in your career. It is good to be competitive with yourself rather than others and be clear on what you want to achieve in your career. This focus and quest for excellence will enable you to have inspiring conversations with your boss and thereby will lead to self confidence and success.

We need to strive to be like the “Pole star” in the sky, which shines in darkness irrespective of millions of others stars which are present.  The mantra could be “How do I outshine myself every day and shine like a pole star amongst my peers?”

S Ramesh Shankar


“Who am I and why am I here ?


The simpler the question is the tougher it is to answer.  Honestly, I have never questioned myself on “Who am I ? so far.  But, it may be worth a try to answer. If I can answer “Who am I satisfactorily, it may be easier to answer – “Why am i here ?

Who am I ?

A human being who wants to be a ” A better human being, everyday I live, enjoying myself and making life enjoyable for all the people around me in whatever way I can “.  This journey started about 20 years back when I set this as my mission in life.  I have been exploring, experimenting and learning by mistakes and successes in life so far.  It is a journey and my quest to improve is endless.  I would say while starting this journey, I realised that my basics have been good.  A self made man I have earned my way in life through hard work and commitment and with the encouraging support of family and friends.  I have always strived to enjoy life within my means and share my joy with my dear and near.

I should acknowledge that God has been kind to me.  I have struggled in the early part of my career losing my parents at an early age and still trying to stand independently on my feet.  But then the learning journey has been exciting.  My work life and personal life has been well balanced.  I have an enviable family and my spouse and kids have ably supported me in this journey.  I have moved across India and they have adapted well to all the adventures of these career movements.  They have never complained on the consequences of these movements on their lives in terms of education, friends and comforts.

So, life has been great and God has also given me all the material comforts in life.  I have a green home of my dreams, where I intend to settle down and almost all of my material needs fulfilled.  I could confidently say that my needs are fulfilled and if I aspire for more than it would be greed only and may not be contributing to my joy in life.

Now, if I move to answering “Why am I here ? “.  I would say, it is to share my learnings, my experiences, my failures and successes in life.  It has been a exciting journey and I consider it my duty to share with the next generations.  When you go through a crisis or a challenge, you feel as if nobody else has ever gone through it and God is unkind to you.  It is at these moments when you need someone to remind you that there are millions of others on earth, who may have faced tougher challenges than you.

It is this quest to share as “Why am I here ? ”  .  I may not have succeeded all the time but my failures too are good lessons to learn.  This may also help people not to make the same mistakes I did.  I would also say expressing my journey in words is a passion, which I enjoy and sharing will ignite that passion in me more. Lastly, I am a born optimist and I believe that more excitement is ahead of me and hence to share and learn more will keep me going ahead to accomplish my mission in life.

S Ramesh Shankar