“We are like that only” – the bane of most adults

Posted: January 11, 2009 in Uncategorized
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A child is open to learn new things. Evolve. Change. If she does not know cycling, she is willing to learn. If she has never gone on a bus alone, she is willing to try it out. There is a first time that she goes to the stage and addresses a group. All it takes is a little convincing that she CAN do it. And some coaching which she is open to receive.

I don’t know what happens to human beings as they grow older, but I see so many – or most, in fact – getting resigned to their fate. How many times have I heard the words, “I am like that only” or versions of that statement.

Someone says, “I am not very organized. Never have been”. Another says, “I cannot be aggressive” even as she carries a sales and marketing profile! From people who can never be on time, or those who can never give up smoking, there is just so much ‘resignation’ to one’s existing being.

I know change is difficult. And old habits die hard. But OF COURSE, we can change! And we need to keep working at it. Whatever be the age, we can attend courses, read self-improvement books, take coaching, in short – expose ourselves to what we can be – and in doing so, we can certainly keep chipping off our old being, and become different. Become what we would like to be. One only needs to work at it, to give it a genuine shot, and change happens.

I know for sure, I am very different from the person that I was, 10-15 years back. For me, besides books and reading, which I have talked about earlier, the few life-changing events have been:

  1. Being away from home for the first time, when I went to pursue MS in the US, feeling homesick enough to want to come back home, sticking out, fighting it out, doing odd jobs, being self dependent, working there, and ultimately, having a rewarding stint in the US,
  2. In the family business, venturing into a new business of merchant exports, lugging a bagful of samples and doing cold-calls in Singpore, striking a few deals, and getting the business going,
  3. Venturing into yet another new business, at an early stage of it’s evolution in India, viz. the AC Drives, finding a source for these abroad, visiting and finalizing the deal, getting started with imports, and building it up into a decent business over time,
  4. Doing a Dale Carnegie program based leadership course, called MILT; an amazing experience, and one that potentially had the biggest impact in my life,
  5. Done a follow up Dale Carnegie program on Sales techniques; as part of this, I had to make 10 cold-calls each week, for about 6 weeks, even as I was already “senior management”. An amazing learning experience,
  6. Venturing to start up an Internet business way back in 1998, and then going through through the ups and downs, over 9 years, including some tough years; specifically, fund raising, working with a partner, working with investors in your company, working with expensive senior employees, negotiating on M&A opportunities, morphing the business many times over… oh, it was rich and rewarding,
  7. Post-divestment of our stake in the startup venture, and for the first time in my working life of nearly 20 years, I proceeded to work for someone else – yeah, took up a job – had always worked for myself. That has been a learning experience, and managing to adjust well, and deliver well, has again contributed to growth.

All these are of course, in addition to the learnings that normal life gives – being a son, being a father, being a husband, being a neighbour, a friend.. everyday is a learning experience, if you want to make it a learning experience.

The point about all these incidents / events in life, and then about the various books and articles that I read, is that I first WANT to get better, to improve, to overcome the weaknesses and shortcomings that I have, and then I keep working towards them. There is of course, a long way to go. But I am chipping away, and I feel good about it.

And I assure anyone who wants to, that there is nothing to the statement, “I am like that only”. You can NOT be like that, if you don’t want to. Just try.. you will be pleasantly surprised!!

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  1. Ajit says:

    Amazing post…

  2. wisdominhindsight says:

    Thanks, Ajit. In fact, I have just started “reading” (well, it’s an audio book.. so listening would be more appropriate) this old classic, “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. And as part of the introduction, the message that comes out is that, the secret of success can be grasped by only those who are ‘looking for it’. In short, those who strive to grow / succeed, by means of change, are the ones to whom success can potentially come, and not to others!!

  3. Pratik says:

    I believe that one important cause why people do not want to change , especially in Indian enviorenment is because the change per se is always inflicted – either by circumstance, by scociety, by friends and family, by socio-economic needs… it sometimes becomes so overwhelming that you want to take a break.. Why do I have to change ? why me ? why this time ? why everytime ?
    because i am always late, because i am not aggresive, because my society wants.. why ?
    Very few individual get a choice..
    So the point is, change is good and required. Required because we live in a society… , but would love if it came accompanied with a choice, which I as an individual have a right to make. Not as a son, not as a father, not as a husband, not as anybody.. just myslef to decide if I would like to change anything about me.
    For one good thing about no change is the tranquility..at peace to be with oneself .. left alone…to discover who and why about myself ,as i am without a CHANGE !!!

    • wisdominhindsight says:

      Certainly an interesting view point. Especially that without change, you find tranquility.
      – Sanjay

  4. shuvam says:

    Change and growth are two sides of the same coin. We can debate why we need to remain alive, but as long as we do remain alive, we do not have a choice about change/growth. IMHO, the tranquility that Pratik refers to is the tranquility of lifelessness. I have tried hard to figure out exactly _what_ is life, and I have not been able to understand it in any other terms than constant change. The only manifestation of life is constant change.

    So, as I said earlier, we may debate whether life is necessary or whether we need to continue living, but as long as we remain alive, change is a given.

    The only choice we have then is to choose whether the change will be at least somewhat decided or shaped by our will, or shall we be victims of life-changing circumstance? I understand Sanjay’s perspective — and many similarly expressed thoughts — as just this choice: we can choose to be what we want to be, or we can choose to be resigned to what circumstances make us into.

    One of my favourite axioms is from a Hollywood film. Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption: “You can get busy living or you can get busy dying.”

    Amen. πŸ™‚

  5. good topic. thanks for sharing knowledge

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