Graduating in Authenticity and Accountability

“I was standing on Vivekanand Rock at Kanyakumari. It was a high tide. Water everywhere. Far away I saw a small boat going away. I knew how it felt to be in the deep sea all alone.” I said.

“Why are you telling me this? I can’t connect” said Lulu, my parrot.

“The loneliness, the turbulence, the unsteady movements, the feeling that you may be at the mercy of forces beyond your control and beyond your influence zone – I think that is how they feel, and that is how I felt then. The metaphor is so apt.”

“Tut, tut..Can’t understand, will you please explain?” Lulu, the parrot.

“That is how I felt when I passed out of my institute after post graduation. I remembered this when I met the 2010 batch passing out at TISS recently.”

“Things have changed since you collected your degree. There are plenty of jobs available now. Young persons hop jobs like grass-hoppers. And they are better prepared to handle vicissitudes of life. The world has changed drastically in the 37 years after your post graduation.” Lulu retorted.

“Well, the world has changed certainly.” I said, “But I am referring to the inner world not the outer world. From now on parents and teachers will not be there to hold their hand when they begin their career, there is no specific syllabus for their every day examination before their bosses; from now on they are on their own – like the fishermen in deep sea.”

“They were looking forward to it, so they should be excited.”

“Yes, but the importance of the moment strikes you when it arrives. The students realise that the next two years will bring uncertainty and turbulence to the fore and change their lives forever.”

“How?” Lulu asked sitting on my shoulder.

“They will step in the corporate world with a new role for them. And soon thereafter in their new role at home: as husband or wife. And for girls they join a new family too.”

“Why? Don’t boys become part of new family? You got it wrong. That is not how things are among we parrots.” Lulu said.

“No, no... What I mean is that a marriage results in ‘distancing’ parents from a girl, not so much for a boy!” I said.

“Oh, Yes! But these events add great excitement to one’s life.”

“Sure. Nevertheless, it is a difficult process of adjustment whether at home or in office. The challenge really is in being authentic and in being accountable to yourself.”

“There you go....you are speaking like a professor.”

“Ok, Ok, Let me explain. Life now on will be like playing a game of Solitaire. Not on laptop, but with cards in hand.”

“? ? ?”

“Each person plays it differently. Some carefully weigh options and take calculated risks, some play ‘blind’ – playing mostly intuitively than by rationale, some would know that they can complete the game by making one false move – a move not permitted by the rules.”

“So?”

“The way we play must be our own way – no facades there. We must be authentic. It must have the stamp of our natural self. In no other way will we enjoy our game - playing it any other way will leave a sense of discomfort, if not guilt feelings.”

“The students must make choices in their career that go with their personality – for this purpose they must scan various options and also listen to their heart. I have seen several managers biting the bait of higher salary and then realising that they made a wrong move. All because they did not listen to their heart.”

“You mean the word is ‘authentic.’” Lulu said.

“That’s right. It must be a part of every moment we live.

“That’s easy.”

“No, that requires courage. Sometimes you have to stand up and shout against what you think is wrong. Sometimes you have to shout for what you think is right. This does not come easily to the timid.”

“You mean “The authentic self is the soul made visible.”

“Yes, you got it right. You have gone well beyond parroting!” I said. “In the HR profession, where the question of fairness and justice pops up often, many managers lack of courage of conviction, and then they label their timid action as ‘being practical’.”

“Hmmmmm.....”

“In the case of some students, such acts of courage begin with insisting on marrying a person of their choice. They have to show authenticity of their relationship with their chosen life partner before their parents.”

“Now...now...You are confusing between personal and professional lives.”

“You can’t live them separately. The same principle stands true in both spaces.”

“I see your point. What you are saying is that one must play the life game of Solitaire authentically.” Lulu said.

“That’s half of the story.”

“What’s the other half?”

“You must hold yourself accountable.”

“Oooooh, Greek for me!”

“Whatever may be your area of passion, you must do your best. If you think you have a passion for music or photography or painting, you must venture out in that area. And follow determinedly to excel. We will discover what we are good at and otherwise. We often make big statements about ourselves without evidence!”

“Never knew that Evidence Based Management gets this far.”

“Having discovered your strength, if you do not build on it then you have not done justice to yourself. If you do not develop yourself then you are not accountable to yourself.”

“Hmmmm.....Can I ask you some questions?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Did you really tell all this to the students who were passing out at TISS? Didn’t they fall asleep?” Lulu said nibbling at chillies.

Vivek

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