Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Seven strategic decisions of our lives

So I was asked to deliver a keynote speech* at this reputed national event, and I found myself sharing this wonderful learning I've gathered from my personal life, and which I suspect, applies to all mortals equally well.

My talk was on "The seven strategic decisions of our lives". It outlined the seven most important things that happen to us over our lifetimes.

Seven strategic decisions of our lives

Seven decisions = 100%,   so One decision = 14.2%

Strategic decision no.1 - Where are we born
Do we really have a say here? No. So that's a solid 14.2% of our live's impact gone out of our hands. This truly is destiny at its best. I have often imagined what life would have been like had I been born a Russian, or a Croatian, or an Inuit? Still better, how much better if I were born in the royal British clan? All that power, and wealth, at my feet. As I start pondering more, my sanskars wake me up and remind me grimly of the hot ceaseless fires of bottomless hell (garnished with whips) that await those who entertain any deviance from what destiny ordained. And I, everytime, stop short of reaching the Bachchan family, and the Tatas.

Strategic decision no.2 - Where are we schooled

Do we really have a say here? No. For the most part, no. So that's another hefty 14.2% of impact gone. That totals 28.4% so far. It's our parents** desire and outlook that decides what we get. Now being an educationist, I have realised that the GREATEST impact on our personalities is shaped during our schooling. I guess I was quite lucky to have had some of the most inspiring (and tough) teachers throughout my school. Despite the slaps and beatings which occasionally came my way***, I was pushed to the limit by a meritocratic environment, and my decision to take up education as a career may have been subliminally inspired by this.

Strategic decision no.3 - Who are our friends, relatives, community members, as we grow up
Do we really have a say here? Partly yes. Especially as we are growing up. So let's say half of the percentage impact is in our hands (7.1%). As we grow, the daily interactions we have with friends, relatives and community members helps us understand the "stimuli-response" patterns better, and the more encouraging the environment, the more confident we become. My father's words still ring loud in my ears. I was playing with a nephew of mine (and jocularly scaring him while he was learning to walk) when Dad said "Sandeep, encourage him. Everytime you pull him down, he will learn not to trust you." So that's how we are shaped, and our personalities are cast in a mould. Slowly, but surely.

Strategic decision no.4 - Which college we go to

Put otherwise, it reads - what career we choose to be in. For many of us, the decision is entirely ours. We decide - based on what we have heard from others - what's best for us. And accordingly spend years preparing for entrance exams. Lot of us get a chance to attend the college or as is popular today - online school - we aspired for. And during our stay there, we start visualising what kind of a career and life lies ahead. I did my graduation from the IIT Delhi, and was fortunate to spend 4 years with some of the brightest and best people around. Those relationships have stayed with me till date.

Strategic decision no.5 - What we choose to do for a living
Or - what work we do. This is probably something totally under our control. That's 14.2%. Almost all of us decide on our own whether we wish to spend our lives as an adventurer (entrepreneur), or a guide (consultant) or a sincere doer (service). These are strong choices to select from. But we do. Often, we change course midway. Nothing wrong. We all evolve. Understanding that is very crucial. People can change track. We have to learn to be able to respect that. Even the Underworld makes this choice. They choose to kill for a living. That's their personal choice.

Strategic decision no.6 - Whom do we marry
Oh! Probably the most important "personal" 14.2% of our lives. 'Marrying right' is quite crucial. (what a thing to say^). People marry for different reasons. Some do it for love, some for money, some for status and power, some for happiness.. these driving forces can also change from time to time, seeding the future course of trouble. But if you ask me, wrong decisions that lead to broken relationships make children suffer the most. Anyway! For young people, my advice - take a careful decision. If you're planning a difficult career (Entrepreneurship, for example), the spouse must understand that "quality time" will be a casualty. Hence life has to be woven around some priorities, which if not done correctly, can lead to disaster. The honeymoon effect takes a couple of months to wear itself out, and then the stark realities of human limitations in full bloom emerge. So be careful!

Strategic decision no.7 - What values we choose to live with
Thiefs, thugs, scoundrels, cheats, scamsters, samaritans, citizens.. they all live side by side in a human society. The values we decide are the best for us, decide what we become. Some broad choices we select from are
  • Self-centred, honest, hard-working
  • Dishonest, self-centred, petty, hard-working
  • Fraudulent, scamster, scheming
  • Criminal, dangerous, no-holds-barred
  • Honest, hard-working, austere, social
  • Egoistic, hard-working, ambitious, social
It's a long list, and given above is just a sample. My final take - it is 100% a personal choice. Nobody can force us to choose the values we live with. Only we do. So no point blaming others.

What we make of this beautiful human life depends on these 7 decisions we make. With approx. 40% of our lives not in our hands, we really need to choose well!

* I have always dreaded this role, as it automatically implies gray hair, a serious pout, and a paunch-belly, all of which I sorely lack. Well, almost.
** the lucky few of us who have parents who care and have enough resources to take us through a good schooling experience. My heart goes out to kids who lack these. God give them strength. It must be too tough.
*** I was a studious and naughty child. Hence the beatings! From my experience, I am totally against banning physical punishment in schools. Teachers who truly love children, and care for them, must be given the right to exercise limited force in extreme circumstances. This amazing desire to copy the westers notion of "don't hit the child" is not appropriate in our cultural context. In the US, given the number of single parent kids, and divorced couples, such rules make sense. In India, they are totally incongruous. Anyway, I guess I am in a minority now. To be called a progressive teacher, you must proclaim - often fradulently - from the top of the roof your soft love for the kids (no matter howsoever you despise your teaching career).
^ Marriage as a fundamental human institution evolved around 6000 years ago as man settled down in an agrarian economy. As man settled, he(she) realised that for proper allotment of personal property, marriage was the most crucial first step. This subject makes fascinating reading indeed.


Ankesh said...

Dear Sir,

Awesome article!

Everything is explained in such an easy language with simple examples.

Warm Regards,

Ankesh Mehra

Sarabjeet Singh said...

Dear Sir, This is surely the most enlightening article, I have ever read. I also request you to kindly post something related with "Spiritual quotient", since as a management student we all are improving on all other fronts except this one.
PROTON Sarabjeet Singh

Anonymous said...

Respected Sir,

I have no words about learnings whatever i learned in your blogs. It is true sentence "Twamev mata j pita twamev twamev bandhu sakha twamev, twamev vidhaya parinam tawmwv, twamev sarvam mamahh: dev:

PROTON Pradip Chaudhary (Spring intake)

Sagar Rathod said...

Dear Sir,

Its an amazing article which has inspired me a lot. I would like to compare it with my life as it goes that up to 10th board exams nothing was under my control, but after that the decisions which i took was completely mine and my family always agreed with me.And i am happy with whatever decisions that i have taken for my career.

so i believe the seven strategic decision in life that you have mentioned really leads us to the path of our destiny.

Warm Regards
Proton Sagar Rathod
Fall 09
Sen Hall

Unknown said...

Dear Sir, Thankyou for sharing such a wonderfull experience with us. It is surely a eye opening article.
PROTON Rahul Singhania

Unknown said...

Dear sir,

That is an amazing article and as I was reading this article I can easily relate it with my life. I would like to thank you for framing these strategies in such a simple language.

PROTON Simmy Jain
Drucker Hall

Nihit Bagdi said...

Dear Sir,
Thank you for this wonderful article. I must say that when most of the people who try to inspire novices like me, they assert taking full control of life and leaving nothing for chance. However, such standards look unreachable. Thank you for presenting the sordid reality in such a simple manner. I feel reassured about myself.
Nihit Bagdi
PT student

Unknown said...

Respected Sir,

Awesome post!! Really, we get to learn in each of the phase of our life. No, doubt about it. These seven strategic which you mentioned are indeed a great basics which shapes our whole life.

Furthermore, Sir, as I earlier mentioned we all are ready to have your enriched lecture on any day through VC. So, please just mention if its on this Monday then at what time it will be and on which topic it will be.. So, we adjust the prerequisite things from our side. Furthermore, please mention the IP address to which the computer to be connected to..

However, we also welcome you to come to our college at your suitable time. Just mention your valuable time and date. It will be a great pleasure for us to welcome a great personality like you.

Thank you,
Keyur Joshi

Unknown said...

good morning sir,
this was the wonderfull experience which you have shared with us and in all sense it is true that "in society in which we live we became the same" .

thank you,
saurabh bansal

Test said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Test said...

Ankesh, Simmy, Sagar, Rahul, Pradip, Saurabh - Thanks for reading and commenting!

Sarabjeet - surely, will write on SQ also soon. Thanks!

Keyur, tomorrow please speak with my colleague Mr Mitesh (97555-99510)who handles the VC technically.

Nihit - that was a nice observation!

Unknown said...

Respect Sir,

Thank you for your reply. I talked with "Mitesh Sir" today about the VC technical thing and according to talk, I will be in costant touch with him regarding the VC thing.

However, as there is a festival called "Dashera" on Monday our college will be closed on that day. So, as per the conversion, it may be on the next to next week as per your suitable date and time.

Thank you again for accepting our "Guest Lecture" invitation. Furthermore, if you feel there is any need of improvement while writing such a blogs OR else while communicating with the great people like you then your feedback is most welcome by me.

Keyur Joshi

Dhiraj Kumar Motwani said...

Dear Sir,

Great post this article realy highlights the true facts and will help me to take the strategic decisions in my life.

If you write more on decision making and entrepreneurship;it will be a great learning for me.

Dhiraj Motwani
Fall 08

Ashish Pandey said...

really sir this article was awesome and opens various facts of life,there is a request sir plese right something about leadership qualities,it would be helpful for us,thanx a tonn sir..

Test said...

Dhiraj and Ashish - good to see your comments!

Keyur - I think the talk is final. You and Mitesh please finalise the day and date. Thanks!

Richa Rai said...

Respected Sir
My one biggest learning at Proton, "Charecter of a person is the biggest asset of life. It actually reflects the values which we follow in our life. Once image (brand) is tarnished due to any reason it becomes obsolete forever.
Proton business school is giving 2 M.B.A. to all the students, one in terms of academics and other in terms of values. The latter one is impossible to copy.

I will always carry these values in my life.
Richa Rai