Thank you for the excellent comments in response to my earlier blog “You Ain’t Learn’t Nothin yet”. My own views on this topic were hidden in the original blog. Some of the statements which point to my views are:
The title itself, “You Ain’t Learn’t Nothin Yet”.
“She has all the answers”
Can that ever be possible? That means she is not asking the right questions.
“There is no technical challenge……”
After the first 10 years of your career, the only challenges are those in business solved by technology. There is nothing called a technical challenge. If you are looking for technical challenges only, you will hit a wall. The challenge is always how to increase revenue, reduce cost, minimize risk, improve process – through the application of technology and by changing the way people and machines work. That challenge will ‘never be won over’. Poets can never say that they have written their best piece. It is always work in progress.
Show me one person who says there is no (technical) challenge they cannot solve and I will show you one arrogant person whose career has already started its downward spiral unknown to them.
“She will be assigned to yet another project, to yet another customer…”
This depends on what problem you are trying to solve. If you are trying to solve the problem of ‘being utilized, being billable, then it is ‘yet another project’. Does Sachin Tendulkar play ‘yet another test, yet another one-day’? Does Sonu Nigam or the Rolling Stones perform in ‘yet another gig’? Do they think about the boredom of their job? Think about the boredom of a chef (or mom at home) cooking yet another fantastic meal.
It is what you are looking for in life. The chef, the Rolling Stones or Sonu Nigam are looking to bring a smile on a completely new set of people, some of whom might have seen them before. Hence they want to prove they can excel even more and for the others, they want to turn them into lifelong fans. Each performance is a ‘first time performance’. The mom at home is not cooking. Each day, she is building a family. The chef is trying to introduce his way of cooking to yet another person. And realize these professions above do effectively the same ‘thing’ for 30, 40 or 50 years in a row without a sweat. They are never ‘bored’.
“Teach the team”
A high performer never teaches the team; always learns from it. The moment you feel you are teaching, you have stopped learning and the slope of your own growth has reversed.
Once an interviewer asked Ustad Amjad Ali Khan “What keeps you going”? Ustadji said, “Every time I am in front of an audience, I try to get a certain kind of response from my Sarod. Bas Usi Ki khwaish Hai. (That is all I attempt to do).” That is it. That keeps him going. With an attempt to get his Sarod to respond to the audience, he is always learning; never playing to his audience. He is never there to ‘perform in front of yet another audience’.
I end the blog by saying “Oh! The burden of excellence. She cannot keep doing this again and again. She is bored.”
Boredom has interested me for a long time. And the way I see it, it has nothing to do with the ‘excellence or importance of the work you do’. It applies to the washerwoman, to the bus driver, to Sachin Tendulkar, to Fidel Castro (giving the same anti US speeches for more than 60 years).
How do we avoid it?
For all those who were looking for an answer in this blog, they will be disappointed. There can be no answer. If you are looking for one, please see this YouTube clip.
You have to figure out your own formula for your own problem. For me I have had a simple formula that drives me every single day. I have had this formula for at least 30 years.
Every day I tell myself that “I want to bring Happiness and Success to the 10 people around me”. That is it. As a kid I wanted to make my father and mother proud of me. As a young sales guy, I wanted my boss to be seen in good light by his boss and bring success to my company. As a project manager, I wanted my customer to get promoted. As a husband and as a father, I want to bring a smile to the people whose life I am a critical part of. For my children, I hope to help them achieve what they are capable of.
This is a never-ending road. I have never been bored. In fact, every day I feel that “I work at the edge of my competence”. How do I make people happy? How do I make them successful? I don’t have the answer. I am looking for it. Everyday. That is my eternal quest. Would love to have your comments.