A career means different things to different people. To some, it is an end point: it is a statement of ambition e.g. I must become the CEO of this company. To others, it means the landmarks on the way e.g. I must become regional manager in two years and general manager in three years thereafter. To most it is a combination. However, these are all ‘destinations’ and not the ‘journey’.
Many managers spend a lot of their working time, thinking about how to accelerate their promotions, how to impress the boss more than their colleagues, and how to earn money faster. The management world is indeed very competitive.
Just as microorganisms grow better in some mediums, the leadership ‘microorganism’ grows very well at IITs. This statement is made, not to exclude others, but to underscore the uniqueness of IIT as a medium to multiply the leadership trait.
Young managers are taught to think that they should ‘take charge’ of their career, that they should purposefully plan what they wish to be, what milestones they should achieve and by when. The reality is completely different.
The most common complaint heard in company corridors pertains to the company’s appraisal system and the quality of feedback to the manager from his superior. Whatever is done, it never seems to be good enough. Improving on this aspect is a constant effort everywhere, all the time.
It is in the first ten years after the working career begins that the greatest neglect of youthful health begins. Sportsmen stop playing sports, teetotalers drink alcohol, non-smokers smoke, active youngsters sit on desk jobs, and starving hostel inmates eat rich foods. These early years are the ones to watch.
All endings are also beginnings. It is just that we don’t know it at that time. In a delightful book, The Five People You Meet In Heaven, Mitch Albom narrates the story of an 83 year old war veteran, who discovers people who affected his life without anyone knowing about it.
While reflecting about the column on careers and business life, I asked myself what purpose could be served by such an effort. A simple idea, supported by a simple story, could be a positive format for learning and reflection and practising managers could find that useful.
The vagaries of a successful business career are as mysterious as life itself. To cope with success, you have to relax and not take yourself too seriously. Apart from great qualities of head and heart, it takes good fortune to get success. With that fortune and success, you have to do something for others. Obligation is born in success.