Fresh Perspectives

Do my experiences make me think about myself and those around me in a new perspective?

Most of us like to experience something new from time to time. Not just for the fun of it, but because new events and observations enrich your thinking, and make you a better person. Thanks to the diversity I encountered, I’ve discovered myself new from time to time. The important part of this whole new-and-diverse-experiences aspect for me, is the learning that lasts. What I experience, does it add a new perspective to my outlook?

I put this question to my decision to join ESMT’s Full-Time MBA program.

As I was putting together the different pieces of information I gathered in my research leading to the MBA application, one factor became more and more prominent: the prospect of enriching experiences. And when I integrated my MBA-selection-criteria with my priorities in life, it came out as a non-negotiable factor. After my fitment analysis, I was convinced that ESMT is the BEST choice for me. With all the research, talking to trusted advisors, figuring out financials, working on essays, profile preparation etc. I had gained substantial momentum, and I was in a very positive frame of mind. I was upbeat on MBA prospects at ESMT.

If only life were such a smooth ride! Gaining from prior experiences, I had factored in contingency, but what transpired next, blew me over. Over the last four months I’ve experienced tumultuous times. My sister-in-law (SiL) died a day before I had my admissions interview at ESMT. And this happened within a few months after my sister lost her unborn baby to pregnancy complications. These events devastated my aging parents, and they both developed serious health issues. The family was shattered. My SiL was more a friend to me than a family member. It was hard to cope with her sudden demise. It still is.

In a short span of time, my priorities changed. I wanted to spend as much quality time as possible with my family. This meant I had to compromise on an essential part of my finances. The momentum I had gained in the run-up to MBA application was waning. Doubts cropped up in my mind if the timing was right for MBA. I couldn’t decide, nevertheless I went ahead with the admission procedure. When ESMT offered me admission, I paid the deposit and left for India, with “Deferral” as Plan B.

The time I spent with my family, though short, proved crucial. My parents totally recovered, my brother came out of depression, and my nephew and niece had a lovely time. I gained momentum, but doubts still lingered. In the initial days after joining the program, I was still asking myself if I made the right choice. After three weeks at ESMT, I can answer affirmatively.

The class has a rich professional and cultural diversity. The first module of MBA@ESMT has provided me a good context of general management, decision making, and economics. And I am sure the modules-to-come will further strengthen my understanding of business and will provide the necessary tools to approach business problems. This however was expected.

What impressed me positively is that this MBA has helped me develop a fresh and more embracing outlook towards uncertainty in life, recognise shortcomings in my approach to decision making, appreciate more than before the importance of Plan B in life, and experience group dynamics in light of changing ground realities.

If I have to choose one word to convey my experience so far, it would be REFLECTION. The program has led me to reflect more – Who am I, as a person, as a group member? How do I perceive others around me? How do I respond to a life situation? And it made me look at my past in a new perspective. I can’t fully verbalise the value of these experiences.

Will I be able to put to use all of what I learnt to my life right from this moment? May be not. But they will surely influence my response to all new situations. Right now, I am trying to internalise what I have undergone so I can make a positive and lasting difference to my approach to life. So, yes, MBA@ESMT does make me think in a new perspective. And it has filled me with hope that this will be a life-changing experience.

Till next time, your’s lovingly

santom!

 

The Race

As I began my race, the wise sage remarked, “Life is too short to be spent on worrying”. I believe it too not because life is too short, but because my dreams are too big to be wasted on worries.

Half way through my race, happiness abounded me and the wise sage once again remarked that “happiness does not remain long so try to enjoy when you have it”. I believe in that too, happiness does not remain long, but it does not mean I cannot enjoy the tough times.

As the race continued, troubles and sorrow overtook me and the old sage laughed and said “Troubles are reserved for the unwise”, it may be true that I was not wise enough, but to be honest to myself was far better than to be wise.

Finally I ran my race and completed the journey and the old sage came and whispered to me “you could have done better; this was not your best effort’. I looked him into his eyes and said “I could have done better as you say, but I have given it all and don’t regret for it, this was my race and not yours”

JBF

The Reluctant Anarchist

When things go smoothly and every little thing happens as you planned, and if there is absolute order, what would happen to life? Will it be fun anymore? This is the question that made me think about order itself. What if there is no order and there is anarchy, will there be chaos or will there be harmony? Hence does it make sense to be an anarchist or a conformist?

In every civilization, two forces tend to act upon in different polarities, one tries to establish order and the other tries to do away with that order. The second force is often perceived upon as something that is unpleasant and which threatens the basic fabric of society. However, if one clearly observes it is this second force that creates progress and development. As a conformist society, we often shun those who oppose order and treat them as outcast, but it is fascinating that these outcasts create order from chaos, which we then treat as the norm.

Hence if anarchists end up establishing new orders then why do we fear them? Why do we try to suppress and shun them? It is because as a society, we are afraid that the new order established by these anarchist, will challenge everything that we hold dear and sacred. We don’t want that to happen, because then it will question our own existence and our so called truths about our identity. Having said that does anarchy mean violence, yes but it is violence of different kind. It is not a violence brought upon by arms rather It is a violence, which questions ideas. It is not a violence that results in bloodshed, rather it is a violence that results renewal of our old self. It is not a violence that results in death of beings; it is a violence that results in birth of new ways. Ultimately anarchy is a violence that leads to inner peace. So if anarchy is so peaceful, why do we see, protests that end in violence? I guess what has been marketed as anarchy in the modern society is not anarchy at all rather a glamorized version of conformism in the package of anarchy. This brings up the last question if anarchy is the way to go then why are more people not choosing this path? The reason is because we are all anarchists by nature, but reluctant ones. However it is only when this reluctance is broken can we achieve our true potential. So how could you emerge out of this reluctance? This is an answer one has to find for themselves. Lucy Parson condensed in two sentences on how one could move from the tipping point of reluctant anarchist to a real one and I quote “Anarchism has but one infallible, unchangeable motto, ‘Freedom.’ Freedom to discover any truth, freedom to develop, to live naturally and fully.”

JBF

Making sense out of nothing – What would I do if this was the last day of my life?

After a long time, I felt that I did not have anything to do and when I do not have anything to do, I write. However, when  I realized that when I write without any purpose it made more sense than anything that I wrote when I was in my senses. In order to continue with this tradition, I decided I should write something and only thing that came to my mind is the question what would I do if I knew this was the last day of my life? A philosophical question that one can think about, only when a substance crosses the blood brain barrier (if you don’t understand this blood brain barrier, I am sorry; I did my biochemistry 101 in my Masters so I should throw this in some way to ensure that you don’t understand).

 

So I prepared a list of things that I would do
1. Talk to all my friends and tell them how much I care for them
2. Spend as much time with my family and let them know they are my priority
3. Call everyone I hurt in every small way and tell them that I was really messed up
4. Meet everyone who helped me in a small way and thank them
5. Give hope to a few people that have lost hope
And the list goes on…..

 

When I finished this list I looked back and thought what could be the list of things that someone wants to do (hoping they would live an infinite amount of time)
1. It could be to climb the corporate ladder and be known as the exemplary leader (Can’t help this, if you go to a B-School, you can never finish an article without mentioning about leadership)
2. Earn so much money that one literally could sink on it and not care about anyone else (they have another name for it profit maximization- by the way it’s not after all a complicated things let the Excel solver do it for you)
3. Network and build contacts that one think will get them to the next stage of their career (this is the most essential skill you need to have or so I was informed)
4. Build a dream house that one think will be the sanctuary that can never be destroyed (Who can blame this lofty dream?)
5. Buy anything and everything that provides satisfaction for mortal cravings (This is what you learn in Marketing 101, create and satisfy consumer demand)
6. More than anything else, believing that the entire world revolves around oneself (I guess this has to do with the entire I-GENERATION)

 

Now I looked at both the lists and compared (this is called structured problem solving in B-school lingo) and found that none of the priorities one sets thinking that will live forever matches the priorities one could set assuming that could be the last day. It showed me that maybe we go too fast in our pursuits that we lose focus on the purpose. It is the purpose that needs to define an individual rather than the pursuits. Besides, it is the people that count in your journey not the things, but we get engrossed in the things that we forget the people who made the difference. I guess someone before me by the name of Abraham Lincoln said it better so I will borrow his words, “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years”…. I guess my boredom has come to an end and so has my creativity… Carpe Diem

JBF

Journey to a fake city (Halle or Halle)- The journey continues

When my Mexican friend uttered those five fateful words “I will never smile again”, we were taken aback and as you would have expected we burst out in laughter. This is the situation about which philosophers often narrate, that if you want to smile, you can smile even in the worst situation. However the laughter was short lived, because we really wanted to watch the tennis match and had to come up with a backup plan. Never mention the word backup plan or brain storming to a bunch of MBA students, because once they hear these words they think about every possible thing except the one that actually can be done. Unfortunately, I created the mess by mentioning those accursed words “backup plan”, in a moment we had five suggestions ranging from how sunk costs needs to be ignored to going to the fake Halle and spending the weekend. My Mexican friend by this time was almost in tears, and thought his childhood dream of watching the tennis match at Halle will come to a crashing end. It is just like I read in the stories, when all that you held dear in your crazy life comes to a momentary halt that you realize that everything in life is unfair. But complaining will not solve the problem and that is a lesson my Mexican friend understood better than anyone there in the group. Finally the other Mexican friend (who we call Jack) came up with the only sensible idea, let’s rent a car. Those were the magical words that energized the entire team and called us to unite for a common cause “a trip to real Halle”. Sometimes you wonder why leaders cannot come up with such magical words. I realized my second lesson, that participation in class discussion is good (helps some people get grades), but what really matters is participation outside the class. This was one of many such participation by our Mexican friend Jack and we really appreciate him for coming alive in the trip. Immediately, the action started, after scouting across three car rentals, we found the car that would take us to Halle, but time was running out as our Mexican friend really wanted to watch the first semi-finals.  The Car trip could have been the most memorable one in our lives, because in the first two minutes of the drive, we could have been killed three times. I for a moment could see the sky opening wide with outstretched arms to welcome these travelers to the fake Halle. The car journey was also something unique because the driver had an international license, but was driving as if he would do in a local Indian town. This was when I learnt my third lesson, when you split responsibility and delegate without accountability, you can be sure the line between heaven and hell is very thin. After those closed calls, we decided it was time for a change of leadership, so we demoted the man with the international Indian license and nominated Jack with the Mexican license. Surprisingly, we never were in a close call again, however we were on the road to real Halle with the only problem instead of two hours the journey will now take 2 days and no one realized it.

More to continue on the German trick word that almost changed our lives forever, illuminating McDonald’s stopover and the tennis match itself…

 

JBF