Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Day 3: A Plan and A Priority

Totally under snow. It keeps snowing more, completely submerging my car and everything around me. I started with, but gave up by the mid-day, any hope of going to see my Chartered Accountant and Mentor-in-Chief, who is also supposed to sign off my naturalization application vouching that I am who I say I am. Given that this will need to be submitted by Friday the 8th, this gives me tomorrow and if the weather does not improve, which is unlikely, I am in for a bit of trouble. I can't postpone the appointment as I must stay in Britain for five working days after the application, and I have got my tickets to fly precisely on the fifth day. I don't feel nervous, this is how my life has been most of the time; in fact, if anything, I feel usual.

I am slowly getting back to the 100-day plan and how critical this really is. Glass-half-empty is not really my style, but if I really want to draw sympathy, here is how it looks like: At the end of this 100-day period, I shall have no job, I already have no savings and plan to spend quite a bit over next 6 weeks, and have, at this time at least, nothing beyond a romantic notion of what I want to do next. Pretty scary, given that the economic situation is fairly unlikely to improve. But then, I am not a pessimist, and I quite love living life on the edge. I must also state that the only thing I have in abundance is the ability to dream even in the middle of a disaster, or near disaster, because I have seen that my dreams mostly rescue me from actual car crashes [that's a metaphor, if you didn't get it, I don't dream while driving]. So, if anything, I feel this is usual and I shall turn a corner within the next 100 days and make a fresh start.

I have been asked before whether I know what I want to do, and I never had a good answer. I think one of the priorities of the next few days is to seek that answer and get a plan around that. I more or less know what I don't want to do. Among other things, that includes living the life of a deputy, living in an existence without having any real power to do things. That rules out most of the 'corporate' options that I have, though it will still allow me to function as a CEO of a small company. This is the second thing: I have realized I do very well when I am managing a small team, rather than a big and dispersed one. This is possibly because I am too much of a dreamer, and want other people to 'get me'. This does not happen in a bigger organization, and as I am increasingly finding out, with the big-organization types. There are many of those people indeed, particularly in Indian corporate hierarchy. I recently came across a person who started his company and made himself the VP of something, possibly sales. He just could not make himself the CEO or the Owner; he just felt exposed. I have now realized my inability to connect with this kind of people.

So, corporate career is completely out, and the only thing I can possibly do is to run a small consultancy of people who are committed and passionate about the work. I know what I am passionate about: Freeing people from the slavery that is inside them and bringing out the leaders. Yes, of course, there are other things. Let me try to present this: Each of us have a slave inside, which is a slave of habit, expectations, social norms. Now, some people can tame the slave and be themselves, but all too often, as Paulo Freire would have observed, the oppressed, when freed, becomes the oppressor. They, when freed from their inner slavery, propagate slavery for others, and perpetuate the concept of slavery in their work and life. Well, I may not be expressing it very well, but I have now seen so many people who escaped the social design, but only helped perpetuate the social design on others: They just joined the other side of the table. I think what I would wish to work for is to perpetuate freedom, enablement. I keep hearing this refrain that leaders invariably needs followers. I disagree: It is wrong to think that to become a leader, you must create followership. In this new world of network society, as against the hierarchical society of the old, leaders are those who live in the company of leaders. So, leaders create leaders, they free people, not subjugate them. This is what I wish to work for: the concept of network leadership.

I think this isn't new. Leadership is intensely personal, though it is not externally understood that way. However, we need such leadership in every walk of our lives : Not just in business, but in public life, in not-for-profit, in arts and creative fields. I am increasingly convinced that I want to work towards setting up a boutique training and consulting organization exploring ways how we can get better leaders ready for the emergent network society. I don't know whether I am talking about a for-profit idea. But, surely, it is worth exploring in whichever form possible, and if a network of leaders can be developed, the societies who host them will only benefit, and businesses who nurture them, will grow. So, it is indeed worth every penny to spend my life working on it.

So, that's future for me. Over next few days, I shall explore how the different bits that I am working on - my current work, my open college, my studies, my writing - can all be integrated around this single theme. Someone commented, looking at my CV, that my life looks like a search: He said he can not figure what I am searching for. I think it is about a purpose, which makes lives better and fairer. I think I got mine: It is about stringing every thing else, and every day, together in that frame of purpose.

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"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

- Theodore Roosevelt

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We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

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