Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day 7: Lessons from a Failure

I did finally move forward today, despite the weather. Ironically, the motivation was an extremely frustrating event, a rather foolish and pointless posturing which laid bare to me the silliness many of the Western businesses are run with. To me, contracts were a devise to support business activities; however, in most cases, contracts precede the common sense rationale of the business, or at least, made to be so. So, currently, I am up against a demonstration of Shylockian business practise - not for the first time but the sheer mindlessness of the current one is staggering - and this managed to spoil my weekend, and helped spur me on.

So, next week, I must make some real progress. I got some start, cleared some long pending issues and the mini-crisis helped me focus my mind on what I must do. I have made a number of mistakes over last three years, most of them pertaining to communication style and some of them due to the way I organize myself, and I have come a full circle when these mistakes have started coming back to bite me. Indeed, sitting at this time, life sure appears a bit bleak, a near disaster, and an undoing of everything that I stood for seems destined.

But, then, I am not exactly someone who will give up and go away. That was never my style. Or, may be, I have abandoned that style if I ever was a quitter. I have learnt that it does not help to quit, though one must be realistic. In recent past, I have felt my sentiments about holding the fort is somewhat quixotic, but I did not want to quit unless pushed.

Even if circumstances are against me, and the whole world conspires against what I want to achieve. This is probably one thing I needed to learn, that walking away isn't an option. It is not about any secured salary at the end of the month or any comfort; it is about not feeling bad to myself but there is one project I left in a mess.

Especially when one sees clear potential and even knows the pathways to resolve the problems, which I surely do. I think there is a deep disconnect on what I know and how some of my business associates want to achieve the goals; there is indeed a significant difference in values too. However, as I keep trying, I know these differences are not insurmountable, and while it requires patience, all of the problems can be resolved and success will be achieved. I may sound a bit crazily optimistic in the middle of the circumstances, but that's what I am, characteristically.

So, a failure to focus my mind and I must go on and change everything in the next three weeks. I have now got a word from one of my associates that he is unable to back me in a business that we have been working together on, sort of. While this would have been earth-shattering for me if it came at any other time, coming in the middle of such depressing time, it felt just okay. In fact, I could not but appreciate his candour, and knew instantly that I shall work with him if an opportunity arise in the future.

For the moment, however, this double disaster affects my plans significantly. My Open College project may take a hit, and may not happen this year. I have to recalibrate my plans beyond March, given that the contract related negotiations may force me to give more time to stabilize the current business. However, in my current form, all this is inspiring me to make a fresh start.

For a start, I have decided to take the plunge and start a business in Kolkata. This will be a small Content production facility, which I am planning to develop with an old friend and business associate. The plan is to produce industry specific training content - and I shall set up a marketing operation in the UK to get into new areas of content production. I shall draw upon the experiences of my brother in doing this, but I am now really committed to this - I think this can be a big business and finally allow me to go back to Kolkata and settle there. My idea is to get the operations going latest by March and make this my key business interest.

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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.

- T S Eliot

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