My quest this life-time is to be love, courage, freedom, authenticity and live in the expression of my highest self. As I look back at my own life, I realize that this quest always guided my behaviour & actions both personally & professionally. The only difference that I see now is that instead of looking for these things outside, I now seek them within. This shift in perspective & thinking is profound. It just changed my world for better. I have realized that what you search for, resides in you. Or else you wouldn't be looking for this in the first place. Deep realization & self-awareness is required to even touch-base with your quest.
What you seek, must first be given. That's the rule of the Universe. Only in giving what you seek, you will create that space for receiving & quenching your thirst. Quest is a long arduous search that ignites you to walk the path that you have been chosen for. Once you know your quest, you then define your purpose, your bigger commitment, the meaning that you give to your life.
Our journey on this earth is nothing but to find ourselves and to give meaning to our existence. Our purpose is to contribute to something bigger than self, to manifest the goodness that resides in you, to keep walking the path joyously, effortlessly and connecting with the light within. We are enough, we have everything inside us. We are resourceful enough. We have the capacity to make & break, to love or be fearful, to create or destroy, to be inspired or suffer, to see beauty or get trapped in the darkness. We make the choice to walk our paths.
Life is beautiful and has so much to offer us. We get masked by our own disguise, uncertainty. We have fears that aren't acknowledged by us, we aren't even aware of these. They are embedded in our subconscious mind. All our actions, behaviours and reality is a manifestation of our inner world. We are our best judge. We know what the truth is, but many a times we run away from this truth. We fear and this fear holds us back; because of which we never bloom into the person that we truly are. We wither one day without even realizing ourselves.
I have followed, observed & read about the work of many Masters. Few qualities are common in them. They are humble, kind, empathetic, giving, passionate, their quest for life is beyond self. They never ventured out to make a difference to the world, but chose to find meaningful pursuits. They kept walking that path without faltering, without deviating despite of odds. They did it because that was their quest and they loved what they were doing. Eventually they became so good at their uniqueness that they became Masters in their field & that's how they contributed to humanity. Their contribution is not just their masterpiece, craftsmanship but their journey towards self-realization, towards realization of one's best version. They gave without keeping scores, they gave more value than what they received, they opened their arms to new ideas, new ways of learning & growing. The great scientist, Newton defined a law which says that every action has an equal & opposite reaction. What ever you give out, you get back. The speed with which you exhale also determines the speed with which you are going to inhale. This is natural & a law of the Nature, the Universe. So, what you want must first be given and only then you receive with the same velocity or even more. Life is a echo, it comes back to you. So be mindful of what you want back.
To quench your thirst in life, you must first give what you are seeking. This simple act will fill you & your being & eventually quench your search. It's never the other way around. I am glad to have understood this before it is too late. The moment I realize my quench is getting stronger, I know that I need to give more strongly that I am looking for.
"The meaning of life is to find your gift.The purpose of life is to give it away." - Pablo Picasso.
"When you show deep empathy toward others, their defense energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it.That's when you can get more creative in solving problems."- Stephen Covey
Empathy is the ability to put oneself in another's shoes, being able to understand other's state of mind. When you drop your perspective, your judgment, your views (both conscious & unconscious) and simply listen to the other person's perspective, recognize, experience the outlook or his/her emotions as they are and can not only acknowledge those emotions but truly feel them within & offer your support, that's deep empathy. For a person to be truly empathetic, he/she should have compassion, respect for the person, creativity of mind, leadership depth, clarity, openness at heart along with emotional & spiritual intelligence. Many a times, we just don't understand the other person, because we just use our judgement and bring our angle to it. The moment we do this, we disconnect from the person. We shut the other person from opening up to us. We come across as intimidating, distrustful and cold. And who would want to open up to such a person?!
Empathy is power. It helps in understanding a person in depth, build fruitful relationship, develop meaningful communications & this in turn results in better problem solving. It is important to develop empathy not only at personal level but also at professional level and unleash it's power. Empathy is very different from sympathy. Empathy opens up the doors to possibilities. To be able to lead, influence, nurture or even help/support another, one needs to be empathetic. That's the key to leadership & people excellence. Without this, deep understanding cannot be created which in turn will result in not so great scenarios.
Here's an example. A simple discussion between Manager & team member around some project completion issues. The names are randomly selected & doesn't refer to any specific persons.
Rohan (Manager): What's up Mohan?
Mohan (Team member): Nothing, just feeling unwell.
Rohan (Manager): Oh! Go to a doctor after office. Tell me more about the project. Where are we with it's progress?
Mohan (Team member): Trying hard to meet the deadline.
Rohan (Manager): What's wrong? We were supposed to complete it by this week. I trusted you and you were really keen on picking this up. But, look at you. You have disappointed me.
Mohan(Team member): The client keeps changing their requirements and one of our team members had to deal with a personal loss. We are short with resources.
Rohan (Manager): No excuses please, just hand over the project to me by this week. That's it.
Do you think the outcome of this discussion could have been better had the Manager listened to his team member with empathy & accordingly guided him towards a creative solution? Of course, this could have been better. But, many a times we just don't care to be empathetic. Empathy is a choice that we make because we know its power.
What are the four key elements of empathy?
1. See their world.
2. Understand their feelings.
3. Communicate understanding.
4. Appreciate them without judgments.
The empathy map was originally created by Dave Gray. An empathy map is a collaborative tool teams can use to gain a deeper insight into their customers. This tool can be used by HR professionals, business leaders and people managers to have better understanding about their team & people.
Empathy can be practiced only when you genuinely care for people, respect their individuality and truly want to make a difference. When "Us" becomes more important than "I", empathy starts manifesting its power.
"Only equals make friends, every other relationship is contrived & off balance." - Maya Angelou
A relationship is always formed between equals. When I say equals, what I precisely mean is that both the persons/parties forming the relationship hold equal importance, value and have the same relationship goals. An imbalance in one, will ruin the relationship or lead to a very short-lived one. Even if you try to drag it for a while, it will collapse eventually. Before getting into any relationship, be it personal or professional, know yourself & your worth. Do ascertain your value. Make a clear interpretation of your likes, dislikes, purpose, boundaries, interests, expectations, limitations etc. Once you know your value, you can then form a relationship of equals by building relationship with those who truly deserve you/your expertise.
Never get into something that doesn't feel right for you but you think you will make it right. That doesn't work. Never compromise on your core and stick to anything in the name of kindness, commitment or your goodness. Your first commitment is to yourself. You need to first protect yourself from all the hurt, harm & manipulation.
This world is full of people waiting for you to embrace your goodness only if you polarize yourself from the wrong ones & free yourself from the shackles of undeserving relationships. Only thing you need to do is to find the right kind who would value you, be happy & grateful to have you in their lives and vice versa.This is applicable both in personal & professional life.
How do you realize that you are not in a relationship of equals? Here are some points for your consideration which I had experienced personally & professionally:
1. The moment when you get a feeling that you are not being valued for who you are, you are taken for granted & used for some ulterior motives. Don't ignore that feeling. Our essence, our being always gives us cue only if we pay heed to it.
2. When you are the one giving and emptying your cup with nothing to receive back.
3. When being in that relationship you drain your energy.
4. You start feeling less important and you don't feel good about yourself. Only thing you start noticing or made to notice are your flaws/limitations.
5. When you do more than what you are accepted & acknowledged for.
6. When you don't feel happy from the inside.
7. When there is nothing to be hopeful about & nothing to look forward to.
When you realize that you are not being treated as equals, that's the time to stand up for yourself. You can gently articulate how you feel & give the other person/party time to reflect upon. You can then draw boundaries and take actions accordingly. Still if nothing changes, you need to move out completely even if that may be hurtful for a while. You need liberation & you need to set yourself free. This is the time to be grateful for the fact that you found out that this isn't a relationship of equals. Pain for a while is better than pain for a long time. After all, these are part of your experiences in this journey called life. Never let another person demean your self-worth. You are valuable, lovable, precious and made for the person that truly deserves you. You don't have to fit in for another's best interest. If you don't take care of yourself, no one else will. If a person cannot see your value, it is their loss not yours. Another person's inability doesn't lessen your worth & being. Value yourself, love yourself. Raise the bar, never lower it to fit in.
This same concept is applicable in your professional life too. Choose an organization, a role with which you have the relationship of equals. Never compromise and choke yourself. If you do, it will one day burst out in an uglier form than you anticipated. Sooner you realize and take action, better it is for you.
Leaving you with this thought: "If you find yourself constantly trying to prove your worth to someone, you have already forgotten your value." And when you don't value yourself, you will always be attracted to people who don't value you either. So, make the right choice now.
"Don't seek approval. This may be the toughest suggestion for you to follow & the most important. Whether you are a teenager seeking approval from your peers, a middle-aged parent seeking approval of your kids, or a man or woman seeking the approval of your partner, it all amounts to the same thing. You are giving your personal power away every time you seek validation from someone else for who you are."-T. J. MacGregor
Validation simply means approval. We need validation for our work, we seek social validation; getting a thumbs up has become so crucial for our existence in today's world. It has become so obsessive that even if we know that the task we have done is great, unless & until we get a validation, we feel very poorly of our self. As if getting a thumbs up is the approval stamp for our work & existence as a whole. This isn't abnormal, this is quite human. We all like it. We all like to be liked. We love follower-ship; as & when we post something in the virtual platform, we like to be validated for what we posted. But, when we define our existence, our worth with validation; the problem starts happening then. If you regularly seek validation, then you give the power to others to judge you and your existence, this becomes very needy & anything needy is always creepy. This affects your choices because then you operate from a space of pleasing others and not doing what you are supposed to do. Even if it may conflict with your inner values & feelings, you may do stuffs just for the sake of getting validation. And then one day you realize that these are all futile. You just wasted your time & energy on things that really didn't matter to you. There will be lack of fulfillment & even loss of self-worth.
The question that you need to ask yourself is, "Why the need for validation?" Do you feel you are not good enough? Is there deep-seeded self-esteem issues? Don't you love yourself and your uniqueness? Is there an iota of doubt about your potential & capabilities? The more you seek for external approval, the more you will lose yourself in the process because it will act as a distraction for your growth & development. You will always remain unhappy because you have given the power to the external world to define your worth. But the fact is, your value is who you are. The person inside you. Unless you give validation to that you, you will always be hungry for some external validation. Only when you aren't aware of who you truly are, when you don't feel good about your own self, you would keep juggling between the need to be good for the world; to be liked by them & the person who truly you are. But, when you are confident of yourself, when you love yourself, when you know your uniqueness, you would just be fine. Likes or no likes, it doesn't matter. You will keep walking that path.
"He who controls may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still." Lao Tzu.
So, how to stop seeking for validation from becoming faulty habit detrimental to our own growth & mastery?
1. Acknowledge your need for validation. Try to figure out the underlying quest for seeking for approval. You will discover the truth if you truly give yourself the permission to analyse this emotion. How do you feel? Why do you feel the need for approval? What is the root cause for this longing?
2. Don't feel ashamed about anything that you know about yourself. Even if you don't feel good about these aspects, remember that everything that happens is a part of the building process of who you are. Accept these experiences with gratitude. Love yourself unconditionally.
3. Dig out the diamond in you. Only you can and no one else can do it for you. Discover your strengths, your uniqueness. Define your self-worth.
4. Practice positive self-talk. You are the judge of what's cool & good for you.Own yourself & hold that power. Do not hand it over to others.
"You only need to find yourself. Everything else you can google." Anonymous
In today’s fast paced and distracted environment, we often find ourselves rushing through life without stopping to notice much. We most often find ourselves in the autopilot mode. Specially during times of trials, the tendency to lose focus is high which may lead to formation of self-defeating habits & patterns in life. Mindfulness is about developing high levels of self- awareness & self-management by switching off the autopilot and getting in the driver’s seat of your life. This is where we have strong focus and open awareness directed towards our own self. It enables us as individuals to be calm and clear-minded in how we think and behave. In this state, we mindfully monitor our thoughts and emotions and use our values and goals to guide our actions. This mind state is a prerequisite for everything else. It can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives. Mindfulness can help us enjoy life more and understand ourselves better. As we develop greater self-awareness, we are simultaneously cultivating the ability to have greater empathy for others as well.
Mindfulness can be used as a tool to manage your well being and mental health. With good mental health, you can:
Reminding yourself to take notice of your thoughts, feelings, body sensations and the world around you are the first steps to mindfulness. It is a choice that we make for our overall well being.
Here are a few steps to help you become more mindful. The key is practice and practice till you master it:
If you wish to see how mindful you are, you may take this assessment that I had prepared as a part of my Life Coach certification requirement. Click here to proceed.
"There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond & to know one's self." - Benjamin Franklin
Many a times we spend our lives in illusion. We don't even realize that there is a diamond hidden inside us, just waiting to shine. Many a times we ignore that diamond to be mere pebble and just live life longing for diamonds that don't belong to us. As a child, we do experience that preciousness in us, but sooner we let it lose it's brightness. The glimpse of that diamond is sometimes reflected at moments we never realized or moments we never thought was possible. But, we are scared to even accept that. We fear humiliation, mockery, failure, uncertainty and biggest of all the inward journey towards polishing of that diamond. We cover up our diamond with curtains stage by stage. Either those curtains need to be removed by us or we need to take the help from someone who can support us in doing that & let the diamond in us shine & glow the way it is meant to be.
By now I am sure you know what I mean by this "diamond". That is your authentic core, your individuality, your gift, your light, your uniqueness....whatever you may like to call it. That's "YOU", the only "YOU". It's presented to us in a very raw form. Just like the dark carbon. Only when it is polished, put under pressure, the diamond gets cut from that carbon. But, we very often ignore that diamond. Why is it so? What comes in the way of this realization & its manifestation? Let's explore the diagram below to understand.
The diamond is our TRUE SELF, our CORE, our SOUL. But, we mask it with the FALSE SELF called EGO. EGO is a false and manufactured state of consciousness in us that only perceives reality from one particular point of view. The ego is not who really you are.It is your self-image, your social mask, it is the role you are playing.Your social mask thrives on approval.It wants control & it is sustained by power, because it lives in fear. It is nothing but a mental, physical & emotional coping mechanism developed for dealing with the fear of the end of it's own existence. It does not integrate or acknowledge complimentary views or its oneness with Nature. This compartmentalization of perception sends misleading information to our thoughts and feelings, and gives rise to dynamics such as “me vs you” and “us vs them”. When we can can embrace our uniqueness as an expression of Nature's wholeness,our authentic natural self expression can come forth.
What you perceive changes your self. And how perceptions are formed? We receive stimulus, we use our filters, we interpret. Frustration, fear, distortion, resistance are the fuel for the false EGO that creates the false perception of what you are. The ego prefers a satisfying untruth to an unsatisfying truth because the ego demands instant satisfaction and the settling of all dust. The choice is ultimately yours, to choose fear or self-love; to choose your small mind or big mind. Self-discipline & self-awareness is the key.
Leaving you with this quote: "Your ability to listen to & take action based on your inner voice-regardless of how you feel, other influences or temptations you face is the key to self-mastery."
“The mind is a powerful force. It can enslave us or empower us. It can plunge us into the depths of misery or take us to the heights of ecstasy. Learn to use the power wisely.” David Cuschieri
Why it is said that sky is the limit? Why is this metaphor used? What's your first thought when you hear this? The sky is the limit because there is limitless possibilities that you can ever imagine or think of. If that is the case, if our mind is so powerful and has the ability to take us to possibilities we hardly imagined, then what holds us back? Why all of us don't excel? Why we live a life of mediocrity & not of mastery? Why we don't become exceptional leaders but settle with being just good? Why we don't excel but just limit ourselves to benchmarks already set? Do you see that the conditioned mind possesses you? How high have you set your sky? Have you even set it? If not,why?
Many a times we don't even realize this and live the way we do by blaming our circumstances, attaching our undesirable outcomes to various things that our mind had captured all the way long. Stories that our mind found impactful, interesting, self-serving, common, certain etc., we kept accumulating & thus forming our belief systems. This is nothing but mental conditioning. From a young age, we condition ourselves. Other environment, our parents, our friends, our own experiences, our facts registered in our so called memories, all play a huge role in determining what beliefs we hold on to tightly and what structure we fall back upon as common behavioural pattern, habits etc. We hardly pay attention to what is happening in our inner world. Thus resulting in conditioning & perception building because of which our mind is unable to free ourselves of our own limitations. Slowly this turns into habits which becomes hardwired in our system. Here's an interesting video on mental conditioning. This is a very common story, I am sharing this video with credit. Do watch this for better clarity.
Now the next question is, if conditioning is so powerful, how do we reset our mind & fly high? I have researched, studied and applied Tony Robbins's (the great Coach & NLP expert) technique on how to reprogram your mind and found this self-transforming for me. You may even try this. The steps are simple only if you allow yourself to dive deep into self-inquiry & introspection :
1. Decide: First get very crystal clear about what you want in life. What do you want in your profession and in your personal life? Make the decision that you are not willing to settle, that you are not willing to live the way you are living right now, and set your sights on what you want. This way you empower your mind to focus with precision & clarity.
2. Commit: Stop all the excuses that you would want to throw yourself to. Just commit. Drop the fears & self-doubts. You have to battle it out: your inner world vs your commitment. Small steps at a time, tiny actions to take daily but not to give up.
3. Resolve: Observe what results you are getting from the actions that you are taking, analyse what is working for you & what isn't and then do what serves you. Resolve is finding solutions to what may come your way in achieving what you have committed to.
Each stage is important and many people give up when things get hard, uncertain and uncomfortable. It is at this stage that one must check for creative solutions, actions and make the required shifts. In order to manifest sky is the limit, you must hold on to the path.You can revise your actions, the steps, but you got to keep flying.
Explore the limitless possibilities in you. First step is make up your mind, Decide.
Most of the people I meet, baring a few, are so busy. And when asked about their busyness, they simple don't have an answer to their busyness. Meetings get rescheduled, you keep waiting beyond the scheduled time of meeting, last minute changes get incorporated, everyone is running around, on their toes; yet when you analyse the output, results, there's no change. The problems, pain points remain, the concerns get aggravated, there is no time for reflection, no nurturing time....The list is endless. Many a times when I ask this question to many busy people: What keeps you busy?, I get this reply: "I don't know. There are so many things. Everything seems important, urgent and I can't say No to anything. And despite of all these hours, I get nowhere. I mean problems remain, their forms are different. I am juggling with life, my hands are full." My next question to them is: "Do you want to be in this state or create something better?" The answer again is :"I have tried managing time. I have read every book on time management, the priority boxes, etc. but I land up in the same space every time.See it's simple, workload is increasing and hence I can't do anything about this." Well, I had been through this phase. I get this right away. But then I came across something that has served me and hence I would like to share with you all this tool that you can use to not just management time but integrate time into your life and thereby have a holistic life. At the end, your life is dear to you. You can't just let busyness dictate you.
I read a book recommended to me by my Coach. It's called The 80/20 Principle (The Secret to Achieving More with Less) by Richard Koch. While I was doing my MBA and later, I did come across the Pareto Principle. But, as usual never applied diligently till I felt the need to do so. I recommend you all to read this book. It has many things/tools to offer. The best thing that I liked about the book was about the 80/20 thinking. When we think 80/20, we produce 80/20 result. So, what is this 80/20? It simply says that 20% of our efforts, produce the 80% of our results. Our goal is to find out what are those 20% tasks, activities, work etc. that produces 80% of our desired results. Every time, we pick anything, it is important to think 80/20. Anything that you are doing in any aspect of your life: deeply fulfilling career, loving relationships, kids, your nurturing time etc., ask yourself: "What are the 20% activities that are helping me get 80% of positive results in these areas and how are they impacting my bigger commitment?" It is very important to ask yourself this question. Once you find out those 20% activities, all you need to do is keep putting more efforts & focus in those 20% so that you can optimize your output.
Once you adopt this thinking & action, you will find abundance of time not only for reflection & nourishment, but also your productivity & performance will increase. Do try out and share your experiences with me.
Here's another addition. I got to know about this from another Co-Coach. It's about setting conditions as follows:
Must Have’s are what must absolutely be part of your life. You will work actively to make sure they happen, they are your starting points.
Can’t Have’s/Won’t Do’s are your deal breakers. If these things are present, you’re out.
Nice to Have’s are the things that if you did get, you’d be grinning ear to ear, but you can live without them.
Will Accept’s are the things that you’d prefer not to deal with but will accept to get where you want to go.
As you make your list, be really mindful of what you put where, especially what you establish as Must Have’s and Can’t Have’s/Won’t Do’s. Your Must Have’s and Can’t Have’s become the starting point for designing your life, and the things you put in those quadrants have a tremendous amount of power to shape how you approach and experience the world.
As you do this, suddenly your life is by design. And that’s the true power of setting conditions & thinking 80/20.
Well, now you decide if reading this blog is a part of your 80/20 or not? :-)
Sending positive energies your way so that you all have a stress-free life, having it all.
"Prestige comes when you feel you have done something well.
But honour comes when others feel you have done something well."
(Quote credit: Bibhor Tripathi, professional in a Pharmaceutical MNC)
It was yesterday that I was having a discussion with my eight year old son around leadership. I wasn't deliberately training him but something popped up and hence I had to make him realize what leadership is all about. Yes, we need to make them aware at a young age before they misinterpret the concept from somewhere else. Trust me, good parenting is no less than leading, coaching & nurturing. All works in tandem. As a parent, you are a coach & a leader for your little ones. So, you need to handle this department with great care & agility because for your little ones, you are the ones that they look up to for everything, there's no replacement here unlike proxies in the professional world.
It so happened that my son was upset with the fact that he was not made the class monitor. What disturbed him most was that he couldn't wear that badge that he was vying for long. He was in tears and started blaming the persons who made the choice & tried to justify his point. That the selected monitor is not good, that he is better, that he lost all hopes, that he doesn't want to eat...etc.etc. All the possible tantrums that you can imagine from a young kid. The mother in me was upset, but I am not just a loving mother but a coach & leader for my son too. I have to teach him life's greatest lessons on leadership. My mind was filled with gratitude at the occurrence of this incident. I strongly believe Universe gives you what you need at the moment & not what you want. This is for your holistic growth. I sat down with him and tried to put my thoughts across. I did ask him if he congratulated his friend on becoming the monitor or not. He said he won't and would never. It hurts him because he wanted to have the badge which his friend had. I asked him to give an honest answer to this question to himself : Did you want to be the monitor because you only wanted the badge & the power that came along with it or you wanted to be a monitor because you think you can perform the duties of a true leader which means doing everything that he would want his class to be first? That moment he was silent. I gave him time & told him to come back once he is ready to discuss with me. I had to remind him of Nelson Mandela and his leadership skills. A beautiful quote by him says,"Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of the people." I asked if need be, when one day he becomes the monitor, he might have to give away the badge for the good of all that he has promised to take care of. Finally, after few minutes of exchange of words, he came up with few things:
1. That he will congratulate his friend tomorrow on his success.
2. That he understood that leading means first loving the people you want to lead.
3. That a leader need not have a badge or the title. He need not long for any of these, but to first be so good that others feel loved, powerful & great having him around.
And the mother in me was delighted to hear this. I hugged him and told him, "You are a true leader because you didn't let your negative thoughts spoil you. You led yourself out of this. Now you have learnt a few leadership lessons i.e. being happy at other's success & working towards developing yourself first."
It's easy to mould young minds, but hard to bend fully evolved adults. If in every home, we decide to mould thinking in the right direction, wouldn't this world be a great place to live in?!
The quote mentioned at the start of the post, just caught my attention today & made me think deeply. How beautiful it is! It captures the entire essence of leadership & many more. The title, the position, the badge are all part of that recognition, it's prestige. But, when your work creates ripple effect, a profound difference in the lives of people that you are serving; you earn their love, trust, respect & that's the honour bit. A true leader leads from the back, he/she loves his/her community and least cares about leading or even the title. This attitude automatically makes him/her a leader, a leader by choice, by dint of service & by contribution to bigger causes. Love before you lead.
Leaving you with this question: Do you want the badge, the prestige or earn the honour of being a true leader?
Abhishek Mishra is an HR Leader par excellence & a whistle-blower of the MW case. Undoubtedly, he is a man of character and ethics. The path that he has chosen is very less trodden and that makes him stand out from the crowd. And hence my curiosity to know more about the person behind the scene & bring it to light. Here’s the link to the recent news article that was published in The Wire, about his battle as a whistle-blower & the details about the ongoing case.
Also, find the links to the previous articles published in HR Katha & Hindustan Times.
Enclosed below is the interview excerpts that I had with him. The intend of publishing this excerpt is to help the budding & aspiring HR professionals to get inspired & walk the talk like a true HR professional, embodying the essence of the role & be powerful leaders with a commitment to making a huge difference to the community that they intend to serve.
As I started our conversation with Abhishek, I made it clear to him that I wanted to know that authentic Abhishek which led him to where he is. I wanted to know that HR hero who decided to take on the challenging path & the triggers inside him that made him do the impossible. Many advised him not to walk this path fearing consequences, but he chose to because somewhere his believe in himself & the cause was much stronger than the fears. The people for whom he had been fighting & a commitment to be a true Indian made all the difference. All these reminds me of a quote by Robert Frost: “I took the one less travelled by and that has made all the difference.”
The interview follows:
Me: How do you perceive your journey till now as an HR professional? What are your biggest insights about this experience so far?
Abhishek: I consider myself to be successful. At a young age, I reached a pinnacle where many people aspire to be. I scaled up to the position of a Head HR, worked with Business leaders managing multi bullion dollar corporations, earned a gracious lifestyle and everything that “success” would be defined in this societal world. However, to me success is contentment & peace. Success is the work that I do which brings about transformation & massive change in the way professionals operate.
My biggest insights from all these are:
Me: What according to you are the must-haves in an HR professional?
Abhishek: TRUTH and COURAGE are indispensable.
1. HR should have a basic understanding of the business of the organization. Since HR is an enabler, it is important to know what business management is all about. This knowledge will empower HR professionals & will be in a better position to influence decision-making.
2. Understanding of basic law is important.
3. Have an intent to contribute bigger than self.
4. Must have a high level of persistence.
5. Ability to articulate things.
6. Have aspirations & embrace the fact that HR too has developmental needs.
7. There is no HR to take care of HR. So, HR needs to take care of themselves & seek support from reliable sources. Ability to put across your needs clearly is an important skill.
8. Persistence, having an analytical bent of mind, ability to read & assimilate are all great skills to have & develop.
Me: In this game of life, going forward, which role would you like to play?(onlooker or player)
Abhishek: Undoubtedly the role of a player because that gives me contentment.
Me: Why did you continue to remain in a situation that is challenging & stressful?
Abhishek: Before I set my mind to fight this battle, I questioned my determination. I asked myself these questions: Would I be really keen on walking this path? What could deter me? What could be the consequences? When I found the answers to all these, I choose to plunge in. Once I decide to do something, I don’t give up. And if I give up, I would break the trust of the people that I am committed to serving. No denying that the path of a whistle-blower is stressful, but to me stress acts as a motivating factor. Unless you are sure of yourself & your commitment, never jump into anything for that matter. I was looking for authorities to take it up once the scandal was proven, or media could have played its part so that I can go back to a normal life, but no one took the step. So, I had to move on & not give up. I am an Indian who is not up for sale. I serve my country and the citizens therein by not giving up.
I always knew that even if I get killed in this battle then also there are some people in Government who would finish what I could not do. I knew my family will take it to conclusion.
Me: Did you ever regret your decision of choosing to walk this path?
Abhishek: Never. Whatever I felt is right, I did. I was told by many to give up this battle. I listened to their advice but always followed my heart after due analysis. I asked one question to those who asked me to give up: “ Did you dare to travel this path before? If not, then why let fear stop you from even trying?” When you let fear inhibit you from doing what you want, you let the same fear overpower you. You are more than your fear. You need to confront your fears and check if these are real or conditioned.
Me: When was the time in your life you felt most alive? What were you doing?
Abhishek: The time when I trekked. Playing badminton & even walking fills me with positive energy, makes me alive.
Me: What do you attribute your massive success to? You stood up against corruption, you fought your own case, you made an impact that not many even dreamt of doing? How did you do that?
Abhishek: As a child, I always wanted to get into Indian Armed forces. But due to my knock knee, I couldn’t qualify. I then wanted to be an IAS and I somehow dropped the idea after just an attempt. HR happened to me by accident and I was always inclined towards Business Management. One instance where I was told that since I did not belong to the Tier 1 Institutes , the salary that I was offered for a role would not justify what my counterparts from Tier 1 were earning. That’s when something inside of me triggered & I declined the offer. I decided to be graduate of world’s top ten Business school& finally IE Business Institute(top 10 globally acclaimed institute) became my alma mater. My learnings from IE helped me a lot. More than the learnings, it was the rigour & practicality that prepared me to deal with the realities of the professional world. There’s a diamond inside every person but the diamond needs to be cut and rubbed, allowed to go through a grilling process to shine out. My upbringing, experiences as a child, life-skills developed over time enabled me to do what I did. Growing up as an introvert, I learnt how to overcome my fears. I dropped anything that didn’t serve me. I kept learning, reading, developing myself always.
I fought cases against 8 – 10 lawyers in each of cases. These lawyers came from various cities having mastery in their own domain. I knew I cannot fight this legal battle with them so have studied thousands of judgements to at least understand what these lawyers were talking in court. I don’t remember how many nights I have not slept reading those cases to understand the legality. However truth has its own power & strength and army of highly paid lawyers could not defeat me even in a single case.
I am still here where I was, however people involved in this scandal are running here and there. Few have left India, some are not returning to India. Truth has become bitter for them.
I am hoping to get justice for those families who lost their men in the construction accident. Sad part is I don’t even know who these people are as this happened much before I joined MW. It’s not just my professional responsibility but it’s inhumane to dispose of bodies illegally for any reason.
Me: Is there a change in what Abhishek was then & who he is now?
Abhishek: I have evolved as a person & professional. Now I am clearer as to which Organizations I want to work for. I have dropped two offers that came to me recently because now I have a clear understanding of what I really want & where I want to contribute. I am more confident now & in a better position to influence. There was a time during my struggle period when people didn’t take action for various reasons. I was even told to leave all these and forget about people who died. Gradually people who were advising me to leave this, started supporting me. I am thankful to young IRS officers at Income Tax Hyderabad who were swift and incorruptible while discharging their duties.
The judges at Labour Court were so genuine that in spite of company putting lot of pressure through highly acclaimed army of lawyers , they still awarded justice.
Me: What is your success mantra?
Abhishek: Expose your weaknesses. People who love & support you will enable you to overcome your weaknesses. Make your weaknesses your strengths. This is simply being authentic & real.
Me: What is your dream workplace?
Abhishek: A place where we all work & don’t spend time massaging our egos, a place which is free from the culture of lobby bosses, a place where the suggestions & ideas of the lower strata of the employees are also given due weightages is my dream workplace.
Companies like Google, Facebook, InMobi, Practo, Flipkart , Tata etc. are the places if given a chance I would like to serve. Working for L&T’s great leader was also an experience for me and I will be glad to do that again. Even enterprising companies of Indian origin about to reach their break-even point appeals & intrigues me.
Me: What’s your message for the young HR professionals who want to become powerful HR leaders like you?
Abhishek: Cultivate a mindset that challenges the status quo.
Start challenging the notions & pre-conditioning if you really want to bring about a positive change.
Have the conviction of doing something bigger.
Do your groundwork thoroughly to lead.
Prepare, act & never stop learning
Having a backbone is important when you are practical enough to back up.
Go for something strong but do prepare for the same.
Organisations are made up of its employees and employees are responsibility of HR department. HR folks should have clarity on needs of the organisation so that business leaders can be guided on HR aspects. HR function nurtures people and people nurture business. We have bigger responsibility to ensure that companies have adequate profit so that all the families get their living, an EMI free house and car, best education to kids and health to everyone. If we fail then the system fails.
Me: What’s your challenge right now?
Abhishek: “Becoming a more lovable husband”, laughs Abhishek.
On serious note, to make appropriate people realize that despite of me having various evidences, I couldn’t get actions initiated. Things are happening at a snail’s pace. Certain legislations are formed in such a way that everyone knows things need to be corrected but rules prohibit actions. CBI can’t take cases from any. The only option available is “Suo Motu”. Suo Motu cognizance is when the court in India takes a case on its own.
Last but not the least, I want to get back to normal family life.
Me: How can we support you & help you?
Abhishek: Suo Motu way. When people collectively come together for the cause, sign a petition & submit it to the Govt., that’s when I would feel my struggle was worthwhile. HR professionals can come forward & render support to fellow professional like me fighting for a righteous cause. Having a common intent & courage to stand up is what I seek support for my cause.
I also wish for a stronger governmental support to everyone across country. The process has to be faster and effective. I am highly supportive of the idea of strong and ethical economic and business activities, however in this process we must not kill the weaker section of employees.
Business houses expect fair play by government and competitors so are the expectations of HR function, employees and their families from business houses.
As the interview concluded & as I was thanking Abhishek for his time & candid answers; I was also asking myself these questions which I even want all the readers to reflect upon:
I look forward to your feedback, suggestions & answers.
PS. This excerpt is published with due consent from Abhishek Mishra.
Coach to People Leaders, Start-up Founders & Transitioning professionals