Corporate Kurukshetra – Lessons from Arjun Part 1

Basis the 12 lessons I derive from the life and times of Arjun, I now have a corporate rendition of the same. This is the first part which will cover 3 lessons: 1. Start Early, 2. Exhibit Focus and Courage and 3. Get a Guru. For Arjun’s life story, please refer to “Life Lessons from Arjun”. Here, I will stick to the lessons for the Corporate Warrior.

1. Start Early

If you’re doing something in life that you originally didn’t plan, you’re fine. Even the best laid plans don’t work and you end up some place else. It’s normal. But only if you’re now really in love with what you do. You might only survive and not excel if you’re dragging yourself to work each morning. If you’re waiting for the working hours to end and if three out of four weeks in a month your Facebook status reads “TGIF” on a Friday, your work life is a mess. If the work you do doesn’t really excite you or give you a kick, I am afraid you’re yet to find your bow and arrow! You might say its too late in your career now and stakes are too high to start something you really love. its a normal thing to feel and say, but then, I don’t think Arjun was normal. Find something you love or start loving what you do. Master it so people around you can look up to you as the “go to” person and place their bets on you!

2. Exhibit Focus and Courage

You need to first have your own objectives and stick to them. I am not referring to yearly goals here. Not even your quarterly targets. I am talking about your daily ‘things to do’ When working towards an objective, how often do you digress or get distracted? For now, do not count, focus on reading. How often does something urgent or someone important or some great idea take your attention off from what you’re supposed to be doing? These ‘somethings’ have an agenda of their own. If these instances are frequent, you’re going to have issues with managing timelines and eventually going to be labelled as a laggard. Your agenda is yours alone and without focus, you’re only going to be doing disservice to yourself!

On any routine work day, peculiar situations can pop up from nowhere. If you’re not taking them head on and passing the buck you’re not helping your own case. You might not be expected to solve the problem singlehandedly. You might not even have the authority to take unilateral decisions. But, if do not show courage to be seen or heard in such situations, you do not exist. A “not my problem to solve” attitude will sooner or later become a problem. There are times when the effort earns you more chips than the results. You won’t need to search for opportunities to show courage – they’re all around your desk. Remember, you’re being watched!

3. Get a Guru

At whatever career stage you are you need a Guru. Learnings can and should come from anyone and anywhere but you need that one person who is your ‘holistic’ Guru. Who knows you in and out, your strengths and weaknesses, where you’re coming from and where you’re headed. Of course the Guru should know more than you do on the subject matter and should be worldly wiser than you are. Find someone who is a source of both strategic advice and tactical tips. A Guru will give you or vet your directions and plans, suggest improvisations. Your Guru will help you overcome challenges and also prepare you for bigger ones in future. The advantages are many, if you’re ready to grab them. Now comes the part of finding the Guru – which for most is the toughest part. No one is going to come to you with an invitation or an offer. If you think you have someone to look up to as Guru you’ll have to walk up and talk. You’re no longer in school and no one is being paid to teach you. You’ll need to show signs of inquisitiveness. You’ll need to be open about your weaknesses, anxieties and tensions – that’s where you need to leave behind your ego No one is also waiting to be your Guru. You will need to build your case by showing what you are, what you can do and what you wish to do. Share your ambitions. With all this in place and once you have a Guru to guide you, be ready to do two things. One, come back with tales of what worked or didn’t work for you. And two, be ready for reprimand if you fail to deliver on a plan. Remember, once you have a Guru the plan is not yours alone. By the way, nothing and absolutely nothing come free. There are no exceptions to this rule, not even your Guru. What you take today, has to be returned someday. You’ll need to payback. Plan for it. Even Arjun had to!

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