Give Up The Shoe Shine

January 29, 2013

It’s hard to believe January is coming to an end. One month down and eleven more to go! Is it me or is time just reeling past at lightning speed these days. Workplaces around the world are back in full swing after the holiday hibernation. Teams are still on a high from their last holiday (let’s see how long this elation lasts some wonder!). Yet with all this renewed energy for every new year that comes and every January that brings with it promises of a better world, and all that we find ourselves transfixed with the daily conundrums of working life.

Hypothetical scenario:

You find out your boss has passed you up for promotion and instead offered you another role. A “strategic” role they say. Except that you’re not nearly as busy as you were; you don’t have a team anymore and you’re sidelined from many projects. What’s “strategic” about that you think? You’re angry about this. How can they do that you think. You storm in to your co-workers office and vent your heart out. Your blood is boiling and you can’t fathom speaking to anyone right now until your hissy fit is over.

Fast-forward to the next day; and the boss arrives back from a week-long corporate retreat. Guess who is first in line to greet said dismissive boss but you! Suddenly you’ve developed amnesia and forgotten about what they’d done and you’re literally fawning over “the boss” and two steps away from polishing their shoes.

Seriously?! What happened??

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Looking Back To Look Forward

December 18, 2012

It’s that time of the year again when everyone starts reflecting on the last 12 months. We’re less than a couple of weeks away from 2013 and the countdown is starting. Reflecting on the highs and lows. The “accomplishments”. The goal lists ticked off. At the same time it’s been a few days since the news of a tragic and gruesome shooting of innocent school children that has taken the world by storm. Yet another shooting I think. My heart breaks as I look at my  14-month old precious T who is starting to take her first steps and I just weep. I look at her and think how blessed and grateful I am. I think of all the grief stricken parents whose hearts are bleeding with pain over their loss. I think of all the lost lives across the war torn landscapes throughout this year. I take a deep breath and console myself that those innocent souls are now in the Creator’s hands. Safe. At peace. Somehow this news is sobering and puts everything else in perspective.

I sit there and try to think of the key accomplishments of the last 12 months and none of it really comes close to seeing my baby girl take her first steps. As cliched as it may be my heart is captured by this tiny person and everything I do revolves around her. I ponder on some career decisions I’ve made during the last 12 months that may not seem to make sense to others but make perfect sense to me. As a parent you learn to make decisions that are right in your heart. You learn to trust your gut.

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When I Grow Up …

November 4, 2012

Somehow it seems that signs come in three’s… Earlier this week I was reading an article by HBR blogger Umair Haque titled “How to let your purpose find you”; then later at lunch the same week I sat at a table with four other colleagues and the discussion strangely veered into a different direction than the normal gripe-fest that tends to happen over lunch. One of the people at the table asked a simple question “if you weren’t working in the ‘corporate world’ what would you have been doing instead?” Thirdly I had a conversation with a friend who shared with me her disappointment with her boss during a career development conversation. Her boss told her and I quote “don’t look for meaning and happiness at work; focus on your family life that’s what’s real, that’s where you’re true happiness should be”. I’m normally one to see connection in everything; the mundane and the complex everything is interrelated (in my mind at least!) and linking these three occurrences got me revved to write a post related to the holy quest of meaning, purpose and passion in our lives and careers.

Going back to the earlier question the other people at the table each had their own response (that they were quite reluctant to share I must add) but what really surprised me was that their “dream” career choices were all related to music, dance, drama etc. Knowing these individuals and how they come across day to day I wouldn’t have pegged them as interested in the arts at all, but there goes my judgment out the window. This goes to show the hidden layers people have of their selves and what they choose to share with the outer world and what they choose to keep buried within them. The entire lunch group shared that they grew up in very conservative families where choosing a career in the arts was completely out of the question. Good children grow up to work in steady, stable jobs, be punctual, courteous to their bosses, complete their daily work and go home. One of them even stated “if I ever could do something else and that would be absolutely impossible” before sharing that she would have loved to play piano professionally; with a deep sigh of regret.

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So we’re back from vacation, or “back to life, back to reality” as Soul 2 Soul so rightly sang. It’s taken us a couple of weeks to get over nasty colds that had us all sniffling away at the end of our holiday and we’ve finally gotten over the jet lag and baby T is back to a decent bed time. Ah everything has fallen into place. Just as everything comes together it falls apart again. That’s life!

Coming back to work after 3 weeks away was a bit of an awakening. Since having baby T and my time off work for maternity leave those 3 weeks away for our first family holiday were our first time in 8 months that we spent together day in day out. It took a bit of getting used to from both sides but as the holiday was nearing an end I realized just how attached I’d become to little Miss T and that going back to work was going to be tough.

During a casual chat with some friends they had asked if I would ever consider a certain career path that would have me traveling regularly at least once a month. My initial gut reaction was “no way, I can’t be away from baby T and live on the road” but I decided to keep my reaction to myself and replied that I would have to seriously consider it with my family. The response I got was “don’t you have a maid?“. Erm, excuse me? Well you see out here families hire ‘house maids’ or ‘domestic helpers’ to help with the house work and why not throw in looking after the kids too. In principle I would have no issues with this if these individuals were qualified as child minders or nannies. The reality is they’re not. Some were lucky that they were ‘good with kids’ and re-marketed their services as “nannies”. We had tried our luck with one such candidate and boy was that a sour experience. Despite glowing references basic hygiene was non-existent. There were so many red flags that had us recoil and decide to say “see ya!” to our brief ‘nanny’.

*Disclaimer: Before I get attacked this is by no means a generalization and many families we know are exceptionally happy with their ‘nannies’.

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Summer time is definitely here and it’s that time of year when there’s one thing on everyone’s mind…H-O-L-I-D-A-Y! Whatever you choose to call it – annual leave (A friend Doug Shaw had recently written about the ‘mechanical’ term annual leave ; interesting read for sure and I would also agree that such a term doesn’t sound exciting or inspiring ), vacation, holiday, time off – it all means one thing  : shutting off from work and focusing on everything else. Or at least that’s what an ideal holiday should be.

 

As I contemplate our upcoming ‘holiday’ (3 weeks to go! The last holiday I’d taken was more than a year and a half ago; and no – maternity leave does not count as a vacation!) I make a vow to myself that this time away will be focused family time. Just me, Baby T and Mr. C. No blackberry, iPhone, emails, text messages, tweets, or Facebook updates. For those two weeks  I will truly focus on enjoying my time with my family, on being present. I can appreciate nature and be at peace with myself. I can reconnect to what matters without being on constant auto-pilot. I can breathe.

I think about this and know that it will be a true test of will. Saying that I am definitely up for the challenge and willing to completely go “off the grid” for those two weeks; to disconnect in order to really reconnect. To truly grasp the concept of going “off the grid” I highly recommend checking out Brad Feld’s TEDXBoulder’s presentation “The Quarterly Week Off The Grid“.

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