Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Story in Person: Reflections and Interests

I feel most elated when I am most depressed. My default mode is optimism, indeed. Without it, I can't keep indulging on the big hairy projects that I always keep doing. But optimism does not necessarily preclude feeling dejected, as there are invariably times when things look tough. The point, I have now come to believe, is not to expect anything to be an easy sail, and worked out an operating method: I don't sit at home and don't worry because things are going alright, but equally, I don't sit at home and worry when they don't. In summary, my optimism isn't about seeing a rosy picture of the world, but believing that I can work my way out of any trouble.

One would suspect, correctly, that I am writing about all this because setting up a new business has been demanding. I had persistently spoken about setting up a network of learning centres, which uses technology to link together teachers, learners and employers. If I attempt to determine since when I am at it, it would possibly go back to 1999: I was then at Netprotraining.com, a business I co-founded to deliver technology training, and played with similar ideas. This had to hibernate for a decade as I went back to NIIT after relinquishing my interests in Netpro, and then emigrated, only to return to it in full force in 2008, when I regained strategic oversight of international education markets again. Despite all the various things I have done in my career, those who know me would ascertain that I have never really moved on - I can cite a paper I wrote for my managers at NIIT years before I started Netpro and argued that they look at such options (which was applauded but then ignored) - and always kept moving to this direction. But, indeed, I had to go through these cycles of despair and reinvention, and in my mind, they are the best way to move things forward.

I have never been closer to what I wanted to do than now, when the ideas are all coming together and things have started to happen. Despite the deep personal sacrifices invariably involved in setting up a new enterprise, it is a time of deep satisfaction, as I see the elements, technology, content, learners, partners, come together one by one. Despite the occasional and inevitable disappointments, it gives me the life I always dreamt of, that of creating something meaningful. It comes with occasional moments of elation, when things work; of despair, when my efforts are neglected; of anger, when people focus on their narrow agenda and ignore my evangelic zeal; of shame, when I come up short by my own expectations; and of meaning, when I see that this was what my life was for. This is the perfect creative joyride that I could have ever hoped for.

As I write this post, this is my own reaffirmation that I need a renewal. The sheer preoccupations of life, of balancing commitments, made me lose my momentum somewhat. I was struggling to get back to my normal rhythm of life ever since I came back from China: Making up for work after almost two months on the road, handling deadlines of various kinds which all seem to converge on 31st July, of balancing various ideas, projects and relationships at the same time, made me lose control and my sense of purpose in day to day living perhaps. Suddenly, I was living a life as it came, not trying to define the agenda and not trying to shape my days, which are sure signs, for me, that I was not in control. It is that point when I am worrying a little too much, and not doing enough to mitigate the worries. 

Hence, this moment - of reclaiming my optimism and through that, my life! It's cliched, as I keep talking about it, but I really do it all the time. I would love to think of myself as a king of new beginnings; right now, my world seemed to have just began. This is exactly my mood: I shall now make checklists, start all over again, write off all the lost time and disappointments, and try to turn today, tomorrow, days from now on, meaningful. I shall define agendas and timelines, and as I am prone to do, make a 100 day plan, which can come handy, both to me personally, but also for the business and my professional activities. And, soon, I shall write this blog again to report progress.

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How To Live

"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

Last Words

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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