Friday, December 12, 2014

Conversations 23: Imagining 2015

Stricken by Jet Lag, I am up and wondering in a hotel room looking into the sea in Kota Kinabalu: Somewhat the perfect setting to be thinking about 2015! One may think these moments are more suited to think about past than the future. But, despite all the ups and downs in my professional life in 2014, I have not spent too many sleepless nights last year. And, the ones I did, I owe them less to anxiety and more to Jet Lag, something, when I was younger, I would have considered to be some kind of badge of honour! And, in this saga of sleeping and not sleeping, I guess lies the big story for me for 2014, and the things to carry forward next year.

The fact that I am even looking forward to 2015, despite the fact that I have effectively failed to do what I set out to do (and in the process, incurred debts), is a good starting point. Through 2014, or even through 2013, I somewhat acquired one crucial twenty-first century skill, the ability to live on the edge! I emerge with a sense of optimism - more optimism than even what I started this experiment with - because I believe to have lived the way people would live in the future. I lived as a micro-entrepreneur, doing various things, setting earning targets and meeting them through various bits of work (and a bit of luck, sometimes)! Tim O'Reilly makes the point that we may now have to recognise that 'job' is an obsolete concept: Many people may not welcome the loss of 'agency' that a job may come with. 

This was perhaps the best lesson from 2014, one that I can only perhaps see it with a bit of hindsight. Admittedly, I have moved back to working, which gives me the Jet Lag to which I owe this sleepless night: But even moving back to a job was a tactical move: I indeed moved back to a job of the kind I wanted to do, with people I really enjoy being with, and one that gives me learning and exposure in the area I eventually want to specialise in. 

But the job I got into, despite all its positives, is something I do for learning and preparation, not for security or the privileges. Notwithstanding the charm of the sea outside my window, and the amenities of a Le Meridien, this is still yesterday's perks for me. I would have been happy to do this - and collect the Facebook photo (which I did) - perhaps fifteen years ago. This would certainly have been an upgrade from my trips to nondescript towns of middle India that I did then. However, once I lived the 'other' life, I see the costs of living this one (which I wouldn't have seen otherwise).

For me, therefore, 2015 may have just one theme: Recovering the agency in my life! I see twenty to twenty-five years of work life ahead of me, and living without agency is a bad way to keep myself going about it. Indeed, this is not about going back to 2014: One must acknowledge if mistakes were made and learn the lessons. But I am not throwing the baby out with the bathwater: I want to make the year one of reimagining, and indeed, of leveraging the successes.

Every 'problem' comes with its rewards. It is already 3:20am, and if I stay up long enough, I get to the see the Sun rise in a few hours. I am taking a similar view of my travails of the last year. The more I learn about it, the technology-led change in the way we live, do business and think, fascinates me: I can see the changes first hand, within the domain of education that I am involved into. I have, however, only tinkered at the edges, meeting people, writing posts, talking, but I presume the more serious work lays ahead of me. My challenge for 2015 is to turn all this into a profession and being part of this change. This means getting more hands on with technology, something I loved when I did back in my early career, and perhaps doing more 'substantial' work. My current job indeed offers me a wonderful view of the arena, but indeed I have to earn the credentials to be a player in 2015.




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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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Will be to arrive where we started
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