J.K. Rowling. I recognised the name, authoress of the bestselling Harry potter series. I have not read any of her Potter books . “very good lives”, written by her, is a commencement address at Harvard university to the graduating students.
I liked the cover ( I generally fall for the cover), it says the fringe benefits of failure and the importance of imagination.
“ Your qualification, your CV are not your life. Life is difficult and complicated and beyond anyone’s total control and the humility to know that will enable you to survive”
“We are driven by the fear of failure or desire of success”
“Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision which is not and therefore the fount of all the invention and innovation, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared”
“How would it feel to be born other than they are ?”
“what we achieve inwardly will change outer reality”
“We touch other people lives simply by existing”
The above is my take away from the book. She is finally a successful lady after a lot of failures and you cannot argue with success.
It set me thinking about my failures and successes. If I had a problem, I would tell myself, I have a situation to deal with. It substituted my fear by anxiety , which helped to improve my focus.
Another lesson I learned is I can decide about my actions, my plans, the outcomes, and I can give you a guarantee if you insist, it can be a hit or I can miss, like it happens in cricket. Every time we are doing our best at that moment, though we are capable of doing better at other times. Here the emphasis is at that moment. That realisation can reduce our emotional effect, it can be anger, regret, depression or whatever.
I have studied in 7 schools before I entered college. My father got a transfer from Rourkela to Ranchi, then in Bihar, now in Jharkhand and the place Ranchi is made famous by M.S. Dhoni. The school in Ranchi had a pretty high standard compared to the one I was in Rourkela and was asked to take admission a class lower, which would have put me behind by one year.” The standard of English is very high here and you will not be able to cope”, the Principal said. My father and I assured him that we will catch up with extra hard work, blah, blah and got admitted to the class, I deserved to be in, so I thought. At the end of the year the principal calls me to his room and gives me my report card and tells me you have to repeat, in other words, I failed in English, history, do not remember which other subject and he had an I told you look. There was a stamp on my face, failed, when I came to repeat the class. An year gone, father’s money gone, humiliation, embarrassment, what else is there in a failure, all that. What was the fringe benefit of that failure ?
Well, a whole set of new friends for the next three years. With a bit of luck, got admission to the engineering college, REC, now called NIT, may be the previous year I would not have got. Passed out of the Engineering college, almost same time my father retired which helped me get a job in the company he was in. Life went on, with an annual salary increase with promotion once in every five years, got married and had two smart daughters and was cosy in the comfort zone. Not sure, what would have been different, if I had not failed.
After working for 10 years in the electrical department, I get a call from my boss to his room. “ Sit down, the system (computer) department wants an Electrical engineer, would you like to go “. I hated that department, rather I had a fear of computer and avoided visiting the computer room which had just one remote terminal to the Indian Institute of Science and the field was at nascent stage. I said “YES” in a tone to take the bull by the horns. The boss said “easy, you can tell me tomorrow, you know how is that department and the people there”. I said “ I know, if I have to reply tomorrow, my answer will be no.”
I did not know anything about computers except it’s spelling. Later, came to know there was whole lot of guys talking behind me, wondering what magic I did or whom did I know to get into this bogie, since they have been trying every trick to get into this prestigious department because it was the in thing and future. And here I was like Charlie Chaplain, the great comedian, losing his way into, now known as IT. If you do not change direction, you will end up where you are heading for. I would have trudged along in the electrical section, added some years to my age and retired, if I had not said “Yes” on that day and stepped into the unknown. I did not do any serious study in my school or college. In the middle of my life, here I am in the computer nursery starting from A,B, C studying, reading, eating, sleeping computers. Those were the days, you had to teach a computer how to work. Even a little knowledge of computer put you ahead of the rest of the folks . What drove me, the fear of failure or desire to succeed ? Desire to succeed.
Looking back, what made me say yes at that moment, jumping into the deep waters when you did not know swimming. The guy who do not say no when he does not want to say yes is considered a goner. I am a yes man and love it. When you say yes, there is action. Every action has a reaction, something or the other will happen and can be exciting.
When my name is being called , I turn in that direction and goes. It can be for a picnic or a favour. I would pick up any thing that came my way and worked, to do it the best way, my best way. One day, my cousin (his pet name, vava) on a vacation to India, with good intention said, “ come to dubai, there are lot of opportunities. I will send you a visa”. Being a yes man, I went. This was nearly 25 years ago. The opportunities for me were like the carrot on a stick in front of a donkey, tied to his neck, out of reach. I was jobless, however, looked after well by vava.
While I was jobless, the hotel boy brought tea for me, I stood up, felt a great respect for him and took the tea. The thought was he is earning and at this moment I am not. I did not want to pity me nor anybody else , just kept telling me, it is a matter of time, this down time will pass. I was becoming stronger,it was a good thing that was happening, made me think differently.
A coaching institute, with no computer section, opened an avenue for me. Gave them an offer to run a training centre for computers, in partnership and I will be my boss. Done. A one eyed was being a king among the blind. Programming in C and Pascal, Autocad, windows, word, excel, to students and office goers at their convenience was my offer. “what are you doing ?” I was asked and “ you should not be doing this”, some said. “well, this is the best I am doing at this moment”, many of them did not understand. Fringe benefit of the situation, learn a few life skills, gain in confidence, change your thinking to change your life, every thing is in your mind. When the earning started, the confidence grew, felt good.
My friend Abraham visited me and I told him this is a make shift arrangement until I get a job, so my heart is not fully into it. He said, do not think it as temporary, whatever you do put your full heart into it and do it well.
A friend of mine went through a miserable time, when he left a high paying job and a top position found himself literally on the street. He invested a lot in a promising opportunity which collapsed.
Sometimes, having assets will not help, they do not get converted into cash in time of need and we do not have an explanations for such situations. I could have helped, interestingly we did not come across each other and I did know his situation. The easiest thing is to blame the stars. How ever everything will pass is true. After 3 years of struggle, he got a small opening and things changed for him and now he is flying.
I have brought up all these situations because many are going through something similar out there. Sometime we can be jobless in life for inexplainable reasons. It can be a cancellation of project, downsizing in a company, a war situation in a foreign country where you are working, a Tsunami, myriads of uncontrollable reasons. Do not blame yourself. All this will pass.
Coming back to my story, I know you are interested, since you are here and still reading, I came back to India, to be with my family .To cut a long story short, I got into an IT company (there is a story there how I got it, credit the stars for it) and everything was rosy from there. In the next fifteen years when I was asked were there any point of failures, I said I don’t know because there were only situations to be dealt with. My success in the job was opportunities to make a difference in other’s lives.
Now after being out of active service, I have started experiencing failure, for me success is being able to help others. Many of my old acquaintances and team members trusts me to help them find a job for them, It is not working and they are withdrawing themselves from my life, blame it on the stars ?.
Before I end, I have a sad news to share, my dear cousin vava, who changed the direction of my life for my better, passed away in U.A.E and the cremation is at 2.30 pm today, 18 June 2017 at AL Ain. RIP