Introduction When there are too many work pressures or some problem in our family, or loss of near and dear, we are totally shattered. We become sort of numb. We do not speak to many. When this gets combined with official pressures, we lose our sanity. We ventilate all our anger on wives or husbands (the latter is still rare). We are at a loss, knowing what to do or not do. This article draws from real world experiences of this author and insights from counseling sessions. More specifically, the focus is on a) Celebrating the "here and now"b) look for happy triggers c) learn from elders d) reinforce all the positive thoughts and e) document learning.
Celebrating the "here and now" This true life incident happened some eight years ago. There was tremendous pressure on me to perform. I had to get hundreds of documents right for a Quality Audit. As HR Manager, it became vital to tie all loose ends. It was not mere documentation of training records, but also physical verification of improvement in performance. There was this thing called "thread audit". Since all the on-the-job training records were maintained by the HR department, the representatives of the multinational company would come down heavily on us, if we had given a high rating for a worker whom they had quizzed. The work was mind-blogging. I had to sit with the line managers oftentimes at 10 PM in the night. Eighteen hours per day was too much. A very big ask indeed.
I was down with fever for a day. Managed to get back with pain killers. Still, the pressure was intense. The vital tasks could not be delegated. Only certain aspects of documentation were delegated.
A well wisher who knew me so well, simply took me off in his car to a village, fifteen kilometers away. He had completely briefed his friends there as to what should be done. He made me compulsorily wear the earrings in both my ears.(this is often done in Tamil Brahmin custom to calm down the mind). There was a lovely lake. Next to the lake was a small but nicely maintained Lord Ganapathi temple. We prayed there. Since it was a Sunday,I had time to relax. My friend introduced me to some simple but loving people. They shared jokes, they showed around their lovely farms. Breakfast was arranged by them. We just spent the day relaxing every single minute. I was asked to address a small group of tenth standard children for around thirty minutes on career options. Every single moment was a celebration of "here and now", No doubt, it was a "let go" day. All the while, was wife was briefed over phone, about what was going on.
The rejuvenation helped. The next day, I was somehow more confident. Back home, my wife calmed me saying that beyond 10 PM work was meaningless. The big boss who got a hint of my troubles ordered the others to cooperate. Things went on very smooth during the audit. I took off for a four day visit to a place near my native village and just relaxed with another friend.
We often do not realize that we need to let go, at least for a while. Celebration of "here and now" does mean a calm mind. It does mean attached detachment. While we are still attached to the material world, we need to detach a bit too.
Look for happy triggersA happy smile of a six month old baby can make us happy. A full grown rose can make us happy. A visit to a good friend's house can make us happy. A conversation with the security guard can make us happy. A casual comic conversation about some incident with a friend can make us happy.
These are small things that we need to do. These small things can help us come back to normal thinking and understanding situations. We do not need a crisis. We should do so, to experience the lighter moments on any day. If we constantly do this, we will have learned a good lesson in endurance.
Learn from elders This is one very important lesson I learned in my life. The best teachers were humble senior citizens. They were not economically well off. Yet, they had seen it all. They knew how to calm me down. For example, in the village referred to above, I was introduced to a physically handicapped senior citizen, who would only move around in his specially designed vehicle donated by a local social club of a neighboring town. Yet, he would teach children mathematics (he was a post-graduate teacher in mathematics and met with a nasty accident), help many children to excel in extra curricular activities by encouraging them and often helped the SC and ST students to get scholarships. He narrated his story and told me to remain calm. He made me understand that all these stressful times have a happy end.
There are many others too. They are simple and now in their late sixties or seventies or even eighties. They have seen India of a different era of no cell phones or smart phones or smart televisions or smart cities. They recollect with fond affection their lessons of life. It is this learning that can help you when you are down. When you are a bit troubled about something. Hence, do make it a point to access such elders. They will be happy to share their experiences as such experiences can teach us tremendous lessons in coping with stress.
Go after them. Through away your ego and talk to them. You will see the difference. In fact, the same gentleman had solved the problem of a love marriage in the same village. It was an inter-religion love marriage. The counseling sessions had gone on for weeks with parents on both sides. This experience only made me understand the value of patience.
Reinforce all the positive thoughtsGranted, the world is not milk and honey all the way. It is always also true that all people are not good. Yet, in our official situations, it becomes essential that we reinforce the positive thoughts as it were. For instance, even being patient is a step in the right direction. Making other people understand any situation is another and this requires patience. Navigating office politics which is inevitable also requires patience.
The key is to remain positive. Think that the situations will go through. We call this in Tamil (ithuvum kathanthu pogum). This simply means that "all these situations will also pass". Getting into the right shape for more endurance is never an easy task. If we slip back, we cannot recover. Hence, all the positive thoughts or ideas from any source can and should inspire us.
This is exactly what happened in my case. I often recollected the face of this teacher whom I met in the village. His advise reminded me of what exactly needed to be done.
Document all learning The biggest advantage of working with the TVS group is that we learn to document everything. This positively rubs off in our personal lives too. I did document every single learning. The exact conversations I had with many people. The conversations I had with my friend in the car. The exact details of what I did in office and so on. Years later. when I look back, I had learned several lessons. Am now in a position to advise others who face similar situations. When the organization is the best in class Foundry in India, in Asia and among the ten best in the world in terms of all parameters of business excellence, there are challenges galore.
Challenges day in and day out. Challenges that can get the best from us. Hence, document every single day's experience in office. This can help you a great deal.
Conclusion Moving from Point A to Point B and C and D, as explained above, can happen, if anyone follows some basics. It is this that the behavioral scientists teach through the most sophisticated formal "T group" sessions, also called as Sensitivity Training. It is a very costly training.
For our daily lives, when the chips are down, we need to lead fuller and complete lives. Certain discipline on our part and our gong through life experiences, as partly described above, can help us a great deal. It is always that only real world lessons teach us much more than what we read through books.
So, let us get going in the context-specific learning that we all go through, now or later.
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A good account of the way to lead a fuller and complete life by the author. Many of the senior executives in big corporates and private organisations will undergo such periods and without the cooperation of the seniors and colleagues sometimes it will become a herculean task for the individual. Generally, I feel we should not carry our work problems to our house. But many people do carry their work pressures to their houses and that they will reflect those problems on their better halves. Not taking the things to our mind is another way. When there is an issue we have to decide on what is to be done and arrangements are to be made for executing the planned works. Then we have to see that they will go as designed. But we go on thinking about the decisions we have taken which will make us get pressurised. Some people will always think about the negatives of the decisions and they will be under tremendous pressure until the work is completed. Such times the advice of the author will be very handy for them.
Rao Sir, thank you so much for the nice words. Yes, the story that was a real world happening with so many lessons was narrated for others to understand the realities of modern work life in most organizations and how to remain calm and patient. Those who are impatient or show their anger on innocent children or wives are not doing the right thing at all. It has happened in my life as well. Of late, when I do not work full time anywhere, it does allow me to correct all others in similar positions and also counsel them for the patience of a tall order. In fact, I do this on a regular basis.