Here is fourth and final part of the corporate rendition of 12 lessons I derive from the life and times of Arjun. This part will cover: 1. Bear Losses, 2. Never Forgive, Never Forget and 3. Strike at the Right Time. For Arjun’s life story, please refer to “Life Lessons from Arjun”. Like in the previous parts, here I stick to the Lessons for the Corporate Warrior.
1. Bear Losses
The organization you work for has a P&L statement. So do you. The only difference is that your P&L goes with you and you’re the sole proprietor managing it. You’re the boss when it comes to your personal P&L. A failed execution, someone getting the credit for your work, a pitch you didn’t win, a lost bid, competition making headway into your key account, an opportunity missed, a cut in the resources at your disposal, reduction in your team size, exit of an important team member, an increment or bonus below expectations, getting a bad rating, losing face due to poor performance, peers outshining you, making a strategic retreat from a situation, simply letting go at times and so on are all losses with varying intensities. You might not consider all of these losses as personal but they do have an impact on your performance which results in a negative impact on your growth. One loss that you might always call your own and crib, sulk and sob about is the personal time and effort you might devote to things like ‘Upgrading Skills’ or ‘Exploiting Opportunities’ or ‘Forging Alliances’, especially when less comes out of these efforts than expected. Yes, all these things need a lot of time and effort but it’s you who signs-up for these extra efforts. You can’t describe them as ‘losses’. You can call them ‘investments’. Your attitude, at the end of the day, chooses how you describe them for yourself. Losses, irrespective of their nature, just can’t be avoided. In the Corporate Kurukshetra, you can’t win any war without losing a couple of battles. Like you, there are many ambitions out there and they’re not going to let you win easily. Whilst you do your bit, there are other factors and individuals who do theirs. So keep your chin ready for some blows. Being conscious about potential losses and not being afraid of them will help you sail through. A loss can do two things to you. One, it can demoralize you and two, it can make you risk averse. The bad morale has to be flushed out of your system soon as you need to remain pepped up and positive, especially when the chips are down. Instead of being risk averse, focus on being risk aware. You running away from risks is not going to keep the risks away from you and had risks not existed, your organization wouldn’t need you in the first place. A loss will expose a risk you ignored so ensure you enlist it and ensure you mitigate or outsmart it the next time you’re in it. Losses, to a great extent, are good to bear as they make you stronger and sharper. Making the most of the learning in a loss is of course in your own hands!
2. Never Forgive, Never Forget
There can be may forgettable experiences at the workplace. A bad performance, a bad review meeting, a failed idea or commitment, a lost contract or account and so on are examples of things you would want to forget. The list can be full of situations, things and people you would want to get over with. The longer the list, the bigger the mess you’re in and you don’t score good marks for a shorter list either. Because a short list of things you would want to forget probably suggest you’re not that significant in the scheme of things in your office. Yes, it works both ways, it is complicated and there are no written rules. That’s how it is. Now, you’re neither paid to forget nor can you afford to forget anything. The good, the bad, the ugly all of them need to be remembered for ready reference in future. Forgetting chapters that didn’t go well for you are not going to be forgotten by people around you. You forget and you pave the way for being reminded of your unpleasant experiences at a later date. If you do not factor past learning from a failure in a new plan that you’re working on, there is somebody sitting in office to remind you of how you failed the last time you tried it. It will be good if someone else reminds you of your past failure rather than being reminded by a new failure itself. To keep the unpleasant situations at bay, you’re required to work smarter than before, set new goals and be spend more time on due diligence. Reinforcing the good, improving the bad and eradicating the ugly should be the your personal target. For that, you need a list of situations, things and people falling under each heading, for which you need to remember. Whilst you can’t afford to forget, you can definitely be kind and forgive. People at the workplace would be grateful if you forgive them for screwing your happiness in office and will definitely look up to you to forgive them when they do the same again and again. Your damage will only keep increasing and the casualties on your side will keep mounting. You forgiving people is not going to change them. In fact, by forgiving, you’re reinforcing a behaviour that didn’t work well for you. You’re also sending a signal to all around you that you’re a soft target and that you’ll not mess with anyone messing with you. You don’t need to react immediately to every situation or individual, all you need to do is make a mental note to self and start gathering ammo. By forgiving, you’re less likely to make a note forget referring it in the future. Office is not the best place to be the next Mahatma. If at all you choose to be one, you need always be cognizant of the fact that you’re not surrounded by similar DNA of benevolent nature. Before you forgive, ask a question to yourself – will you be forgiven if you’re on the wrong side?
3. Strike at the Right Time
You may be equipped with the right skills and experience on your resume. You may also have the best of strategies and plans on your computer. Your mind might be full of ideas. You may be charged, motivated, positive and your veins throbbing with passion. But the Corporate Kurukshetra demands more than all these hygiene prerequisites for success. You still need one more thing to reach that finish line. That one thing is you acting at the right time. Yes, something as basic as the right timing will eventually decide where you stand on the three-level podium. Your timing will give you the edge (or deprive you of it) when you’re in a meeting room with equally (or more) competitive, ambitious and passionate people. Being prepared is considered as a given as nothing ever replaces being ready and hands on. Getting your timing right on routine things is also obviously a given as that’s what gets your salary gets credited for. What’s important is being on the right side of timing on the ‘D’ day. Read the ‘D’ day as a specific assignment, project, case, task or cause. The specifics are the ones that make it to the “best practices” or the “awards night”. The specifics are the ones that get a special mention by the higher ups. The specifics are the ones that bring you in the consideration set for an elevation. You need to calibrate your timing to meet the needs of these specifics. The right time doesn’t come by on its own like the sun every morning. Neither does it announce its arrival nor will it ever send you an outlook invitation with an attached pre-read. You might be able to buy yourself time, but you’ll never be able to buy right timing. At best, someone might just tip you off. There are but two ways to find the right timing. You’ll either need to sniff around your office, get a sense of the situation, assess it and set your agenda rolling. Or, you’ll need to liaise, rally and lobby with people at the right desks to create an environment that makes the timing right for you. When working on your next plan of action, don’t just factor the time. Factor the timing as well!
That’s all for now and this brings me to the end of the Corporate Kurukshetra series. I hope you had a good time reading it and realize our scriptures have a lot in store for us. Even today. I definitely had a great time bringing this together. Please share your thoughts and feedback for it will help me sell stories better!