Thursday, April 25, 2019

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least

Years ago, I had my first brush with corporate social service (with McAfee). A day after we had been to an orphanage to celebrate the festival of Diwali with my colleagues, I recall asking my friend- "Why do we have so less participation in these events ?".

We were only a handful of people who visited the orphanage and if the smiles and kids' energy was any yardstick to go by, we clearly managed to make a small but surely a positive difference. My friend,Hariharan Srinivasanwho had been organizing these events for long, listened intently to my question and answered in one phrase- "It's all about priority". This phrase somehow stayed with me all this while.

This week, I was a part of another corporate community service event where we teamed up to fix potholes in and around the office area. I was personally attached to this event because I led the first of such initiative 3-4 years back at my organization (Citrix) and part of the road that we fixed, still remains in top condition. I had planned that event impromptu with the help of a few colleagues, we brought the material, studied the potholes fixing process and just went out and did the same. This time, we had partnered with a social organization known as 'PotHoleRaja'.

While going from one pothole to another, I had an interesting and inspiring conversation with the founder of 'PotHoleRaja', Dr. Prathaap. He was the former Air force pilot, operated out of Siachin glacier. A spine compression caused him to bid goodbye to his pilot career. He joined corporate life, had a successful stint there. Did his PhD. And eventually became an entrepreneur running 5 or so companies. Seeing his varied profile and the fact that he managed so many transitions was inspiring. I asked him what keeps him going, how did he manage to achieve so much diversity of experience and success. He said something that may sound familiar to you now. He answered-
"It's about how you prioritize life and the kind of value system you imbibe."

If we do our math right, we all have 24 hours in a day and most of us are privileged to choose how we spend these 24 hours.We could choose to sleep for 2-3 additional hours or we could choose to get us early and go for pothole fixing drive that bunch of us did earlier this week. Before I sound like being anti-sleep person, my point is really not about how much one sleeps, its really about what we choose to do with limited time we have every day.

As we stepped forward, I asked Dr. Prathaap- Aren't we doing the job that government is supposed to do ? His response- "I don't personally follow 'It's not my problem attitude'". Agreed someone in the Government is supposed to do the job but rather than cribbing over it, he chose to see a bigger picture. Every year, thousands of people die because of potholes (i was told that count was even more than terrorism). We just can't let people die in assumption that someone will come and fix the problem. We live in a society where it is very easy to embrace sense of entitlement and let the things go as they have been. In the end, it's again about choice- the choice between taking charge or continue living subdued life.

Didn't Johann Wolfgang von Goethe got it right when he said-
“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” 
Have a sense of priority when it comes to your time. Lost money can be regained but the time once lost is gone forever.

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