Mentors – A tribe to be respected and celebrated.

mentor_yoda

I like this scene in ‘Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back’ where Yoda Says ‘Do or Do not, There is no try‘.

Yoda, in my view, is an example of a great mentor in action.

Couple of months back, after ten months of my entrepreneurship journey, I went back to my mentor and asked ‘Why didn’t you warn me about the perils of Entrepreneurship ?’.

With a quirky smile, he replied, “You would not have listened”.

I have been fortunate enough to be associated with a great set of mentors throughout my career.

I also have a “go to” mentor who continues to nurture me even after two decades.

I think I have gained a lot from these mentors and I thought I will share what possibly are their unique characteristics

Personal Stake

Mentors take a personal stake in you.  They invest their time, energy and have a continuous interest in nurturing you. If you have noticed they never take the position of ‘What is in it for me ?’. It is possibly one of those relationships, where you are not asked, ‘What is your exit strategy?’. None exists. They are that breed who knows only to “Give”.

Mirror

Mentors are very active listeners and they clearly present a ‘Mirror’ to your own selves. They will bring out your erroneous zones and darkest fears with seamless ease. In any conversation with a mentor you will come out discovering more about your own selves.

A Bias for action

Mentors put you on a path , where you can take concrete actionable steps. They bring in a healthy dose of philosophy , followed by clear actionable steps, despite the rat hole you are in. They constantly push you from a state of haziness to state of clarity with relative ease. At times, they have this innate ability to push you to the extremes without you even realizing it. You could wonder “why”, but this is just a way for them to sense your level of commitment.

Bitter Sweet Pill

They are the best in delivering bad news to you  and outstanding in ensuring that you handle your setback well. They take care to deliver the bad news in a way that is palatable to you. The reverse is true as well. If, for some reason, you are brimming with arrogance, they will quietly restore your sense of equanimity.

Step in and Let go

They also have this unique sense of when to step in and when to let go. They will never set you up for failure nor they will lead the path to your success.  Like Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, got tired of explaining all the flavours of Yoga to Arjuna and had to reveal his Vishwaroopa to make Arjuna act,  mentors know when to step in and do what is necessary to get you out of your impasse. However, like Krishna, they will never fight your battle. They will let you fight as they are aware, irrespective of the result, you shall emerge stronger.

So, why do they do this ? That is one question that I have struggled to find an answer.

Why do they take an interest in your success,  possibly more than their own success ?

I am reminded of the quote from John Wooden

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

In my view, mentors are concerned more about their character.

Irrespective of the answer, let us celebrate this tribe.

It is a good question to ponder.

Who are your mentors  and how have they affected you ?

If you are wondering what makes good mentees, I will write about that shortly as well.

Enjoy Maadi (Have Fun)

Zunder

Week 110 – Guilt is good !

hardest_journey

How To Stop Feeling Guilty, 5 Secrets Backed By Research
Guilt is good !

6 Thoughts on Why Facing Your Fears Could Help You Achieve Massive Success
Fear is good !

The Power of Conversation
Good conversation is a cooperative effort

The positive impact of creating limits
Constraints enhance potential

How To Build A Business That Matters
The Riskiest Thing You Can Do is Not Take Risks

Life Lessons from Simple Kannada Phrases and Kannadigas

life-lessons

Are you a native of Bangalore ? This is the question that I have been asked by many in recent times, possibly owing to my pretentious proficiency in speaking Kannada. I have been a willing animal of corporate jungle for so many years, I have inherited this simple technique. Never give a direct answer to any question that you do not want to answer. So my answer generally will be ‘I have been living in Bangalore for 20 years’ and the person who is asking the question answers something like this ‘Oh. You are a native of Bangalore’. I heave a sigh of relief.

Truth be told, Chennai gave me life and Bangalore taught me life. Despite being a believer in non-duality, I allow myself an exception for this and believe duality in this one aspect. Also, as Jim Collins so effectively put it in his book ‘Built to Last’ I am ok to embrace ‘The power of And’.

Let me come to the subject.

I wish to share some Kannada phrases that has a kind of profound influence on me. These expressions might sound colloquial to the purists, but for someone like me it has had a terrific impact and generally blends with the spirit of some fine Kannadigas that I have come to know over the years and possibly to all Kannadigas in general who are so much accommodative and seem to have that fine quality of ‘Being Happy in Making others Happy’

Swalpa Adjust Maadi

This roughly translates to ‘Please adjust slightly’, but I think the core meaning is be ‘More Accommodative’. I think this runs in the DNA of most Kannadigas and having observed many cities in India, I cannot find one city like ‘Namma Bengaluru’ that welcomes everyone so willingly and allow it to be made their own over a period of time. The application of this one phrase has reduced my GQ (Grumpiness Quotient) and sole credit goes to the people behind this one phrase. At times I do feel, did they ‘Thumba Adjust Maadi? (Did they ‘Adjust more than necessary’). Well, I think they are large hearted and it does increases my aspiration quotient to be ‘More accommodative’.

Nodi Swami Naavu eradhu Heege

This roughly translates to ‘Look Boss. We are like this only’. When I hear this, I realize I am dangerously close to affecting the moral sentiments of a forthright Kannadiga. While they would go all out to help me, accommodate me, make me feel comfortable and allow that space for me as well with them, there is a wafer thin line that I am not allowed to cross with them. Anything that affects their individuality or personal sense of integrity, with my unsolicited philosophy is bounced back gently with this phrase. I have liked that sense of authenticity and have been kind of struggling to adapt to that fine sense of individuality and authenticity. For someone born in Chennai, this takes ages to get this right.

Enjoy Maadi. Maja Maadi.

This roughly translates to ‘Have Fun’. The only purpose of life is to live a life of purpose, said someone and that purpose of a Kannadiga is ‘Absolute Enjoyment’. Not ‘Absolut’. My long time mentor, a moderate Kannadiga by appearance and a purist Kannadiga by nature, mostly signs off every mail with ‘Have fun’, even when everything around me is burning and I have shamelessly copied that line from him and adapted it to ‘Enjoy Maadi and ‘Maja Maadi’ and have made it my signature.

Agodhilla

This roughly translates to ‘Not possible’ and might sound negative. I used to get worked up when every simple task I wanted to get done met with a ‘Agodhilla’. But when I reflect, I understand the impact of this statement. The expectation is set right from the beginning by the person uttering this statement. You will have a definite answer. It will be a ‘Possible’ or a ‘Not Possible’. Never leave anyone guessing. I wish I could use this word more effectively in all areas of life. Like Yoda who says ‘ There is no try. You either do or do not’.

There is one more friendly expression I wish to end with. I hear this often between close friends when consoling each other and I have as usual used this effectively. That is ‘Sayile Bidoo’. Though this translates to ‘Let it die. Leave it. Do not brood over it’, the actual interpretation for me is ‘Let it go’. This has taught me a profound sense of detachment and when I mess up something, which I manage with regular frequency, I just say to myself ‘Sayile Bidoo’ !

I apologize if these phrases has hurt some purists of the language, but I have generally found simple expressions carry deep meaning and I am thankful to the Kannadigas who have taught me life. I have learnt a lot out of this simple phrases.

On a lighter note, I have derived a simple phrase when I am caught on the wrong side of the law with a traffic police man. I start with a ‘Nodee Sir’ with an emphasis and stretch on the ‘e’ and if the police man says ‘Ennnn Sir’ with an emphasis on ‘n’, then I am on good wicket!

What about people who gave me life ? Well that shall be for another day.

I have some kind of forecast about myself. I am not getting morbid here, but I think the place that will take my life will neither be Chennai or Bangalore. I know it is a looooooooooooong way away, but prophecies are not the territory of Nostradamus alone. I too can predict at least for myself!!

Maja Maadi. Share Maadi.

‘Bai Bedi’ (Do not Scold).

The case of the missing ‘SMS’

Today is August 31st 2015. I am back from the majestic Himalayas after my yearly break. I am getting desperate. I am looking for that SMS which I generally get before the last working day of every month which generally reads out like ‘ You have received a salary credit of Rs X,XX,XXX’ in your account by means of NEFT …. which gives me the smile in my face and the necessary energy to carry on for the next month despite the fact the post dated EMI cheques empty that credit faster than I can withdraw! I am getting increasingly nervous. I log in to my bank account and check. No, it is not there. I hit the refresh button around five times. Still no luck. Should I call someone and ask why salary has not been credited ? I took a deep breath. It slowly dawned on me and something hit me on my face, like a car driving fast through the rains and hitting the slush on you unwittingly. I had quit. July 30 2015 was my last working day after working for 21.2 years. Some would call it a half marathon. To be fair to everyone, I had four farewell parties from colleagues who had become best friends over these 21 years. These four farewell parties were just to ensure that I do not change my mind at any cost and stay out!

How did the month go then discounting the Himalayan trip ? I shall write about the trip later.

  • No Mails.
  • No Phone Calls. Actually phone bills for the month of August reduced by 1/3rd .
  • No one could shout at me. I could shout at no one.
  • No management gyan
  • No arm chair philosophy
  • No meetings
  • No conference calls
  • No reviews
  • No ..

Time definitely ran slowly for me. There seem to be more in that sixty seconds of a minute

I would have had some kind of nervous breakdown but me being me, I decided to just freak out.

  • I watched more movies than I possibly watched in a year.
  • I slept more, particularly in the afternoon. The extended afternoon siesta was pure bliss.
  • I had ‘Made to order’ food at home which irritated my mother as she had to take the menu from me, but I did not particularly care.
  • I made those occasional milk shakes for the kids returning from school.
  • I spent time with some friends without having to look at the phone or excusing myself for taking a call.
  • Acted as a gateway to connect certain people to certain other people.
  • Acted as a sounding board for people who wanted to do something out on their own. It is a cruel irony for those people, as they are taking suggestion from someone who has nothing to do.
  • Found the below place, right in my backyard, which gives me an extra dose of oxygen during my early morning walks. This has been around and I have not discovered it all in the past eleven years.

morning_walk_sunflower

  • Completed some good books and have aligned a row of good books to be completed

So

  • Am I enjoying it ?
    • Absolutely.
  • Is my family enjoying my presence ?
    • Judgment reserved. I cannot say.
  • Will this last ?
    • Definitely no.
  • What did I miss ?
    • The wonderful smiles, the energy levels of a great workplace, the terrific hallway conversations and debates with everyone whom I managed to rub shoulders with, the closed door sessions, the occasional grapevine talk and of course the timed lunch at 1:30 PM . I do miss the people, a great set of people.

It does leave me with a curious question. How long this phase will last ? Frankly speaking, I am going to take verbatim, the advice given in KungFu Panda

Yesterday is history and Tomorrow is mystery. Today is a gift and that is why it is called as a present. I am going to enjoy the present! My mentor of many years said ‘Carpe Diem’ and here I to go to seize the next siesta!

Stay Tuned and Have Fun.

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