What’s wrong with being no. 2?

Right from the title of this post, many of my ambitious and aggressively competitive readers would have already started judging me as lazy, unmotivated and purposeless individual, in dire need of counseling. Fine by me!! However, if you are not completely put off by this thought and do not hold such a radical opinion against being no. 2, you can continue reading this!! 😉

Personally, I have never been a fan of the dog-eat-dog concept and do not believe in the “rat race” – a pointless pursuit. During my school days I was divinely content being an average student mostly, and gleefully watched my best friends among the top rung performers. This left me with a lot of free time that I could utilize creatively, cultivating hobbies. Later on, when I did manage to stand among the toppers, I found that the No.1 spot had its share of disadvantages as well. The view from the top is seriously over rated. May be that’s why they say it’s always lonely at the top. Having said that, I am not propagating lackadaisical attitude or idleness. Also, I am not against striving for excellence in any way. For me, its certainly not worth losing your sleep and peace of mind for the No. 1 rank. Besides, your biggest competition will always be your own-self.

When you are not the No. 1 you get to focus on other aspects and use your time in more prolific ways than working hard to retain the crown.

I remember from my “Positioning” class in “Marketing Management” course during my MBA, an interesting example. One of the most popular and catchy marketing campaigns in the history is of Avis Car Rental Service. It was the no.2 brand in the service after Hertz. Its tag-line “We Try Harder”, established its challenger – number 2 – brand status behind Hertz. It implied that Hertz was too big to care about its customers. In all its promotions, Avis openly acknowledged that it was the Number 2 brand. And offered customers various reasons why they should choose to deal with the number 2 brand, including coming to Avis because its queues were shorter!!

That’s quite an upbeat and distinctive outlook towards the No.2 rank.

The No. 1 spot which is quite elusive and addictive can create stress leading to breakdown which ultimately causes dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Did I say “Unhappiness”? But how is that possible because isn’t the No. 1 spot supposed to make you happy!! Well there you go.. This conjures up the image of the futile efforts of a lab rat trying to escape while running around a maze or in a wheel, ultimately reaching no where and only tiring itself. The phenomena we commonly refer to as RAT RACE!

Blame it on my spiritual mind, or the sense of self-awareness being more expressive than peer pressure; I have always found myself short of understanding this maddening concept of competition and contest.

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Watch your words..

One bad thing about having decided not to blog about my work is that I miss out writing on so much stuff and venting about numerous incidents happening throughout the day. But a good part is that I get to focus on the other things I would actually love to write about; else my blog would become just a gossip ground. ;)

A bad day at work can really shoot up the mercury of your stress meter. And that's when my blog is my relief, my hideout. Most importantly, it makes me realize that my work is not the only prominent thing in my life. It helps me forget about the outside world (non-digital). Till the time I work on my blog,  my world is the Internet and my country is WordPress.

This reminds me about various organizations coming up with their Social Media Policies, restricting associates to discuss work online and elaborate on work related issues on different social media platforms. (This might explain another important reason why I do not blog about my work!! I don't wanna lose my job ;) )

Anyways, it is quite amusing and ironical at the same time, to witness how the power of social media has threatened mighty corporates and business giants. Any kind of publicity on social media (coming from employees, particularly), may not always be a GOOD PUBLICITY!! ;)

As rightly said by  the rock band Alter Bridge, Watch Your Words!! Enjoy the song..I absolutely adore the guitar intro.

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Art of Giving..

Over the last few weeks, there has been quite a stir in the Indian media about the “Art of Giving” in terms of corporate social responsibility. All the buzz started because of Azim Premji’s philanthropic activities worth $ 4.1 billion!!

The general view amongst the Indian masses is the lack of any visible development of the economically challenged sections of the society, despite the phenomenal accomplishments of the Corporate India. Over the last two decades, Indian companies have gone international and are considered to be a force to reckon with, by the rivals abroad.

Surprisingly though, the general public has not seen that scale of development in their economic status. People have started questioning the responsibility of the Corporate India towards the social order and the not-so-privileged sections of the country. And, many think that it might be payback time. But a counter view suggests that these companies are not bound in any way to give back to the society, in legality. After all, philanthropy and social service is a choice and cannot be legally enforced.

And somewhere we have to accept that Indian society is not used to giving to the economically backward sections of the society. Our history books do refer to “bhiksha” or donations given to the brahmins (priests); but not the poor and the needy of the population. We never had the custom of community service for the poor.

For us, it had always been casteism till last few decades. Still continues to be, in some regions!! And the lower caste people were generally, the poorer of the lot and used to be neglected and barred from the society during occasions, while all the donations were pocketed by the higher castes. And from there started the custom of the rich becoming richer, and the poor becoming poorer.

I still remember two years back when I was traveling by Indian Railways, I met 3 European journalists, working for Reuters, on an India tour. Like curious tourists, they were asking me all sorts of questions about Indian culture. They asked me “Why do rich people in India do not help the poor?”. Needless to say I was embarrassed, and had no answer for that.

At a time, when we are trying to paint a broad and advanced picture of India to the world we are ignoring those sections of the society without whom, an all round development is going to remain a distant dream.  The development and prosperity in a society is a collective occurrence and cannot be fulfilled by the assets of a few individuals.

Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can. – John Wesley

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Constructive Conflict

All the time in our daily lives, we come across people arguing with each other. At times, it just makes you wonder why can’t people agree with each other for a change. Whether its your local groceries store, while traveling in a bus, discussion with friends or a boardroom meeting, arguments and debates are happening everywhere.

In this modern era of knowledge economies and the information revolution going all around us, everyone has access to facts and as they say everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion. As a consequence, the number of opinions are equal to the number of minds inside a room.

But in an argument whenever you say “I am entitled to my opinion”, have you ever tried to give a thought that so is the person at the front. And hence, instead of arguing with one another to prove yourself correct, try giving a lending ear to your opponent. Analyzing your opponent’s thoughts might prove to be quite an educating experience for you as you start viewing the things from other side of the fence. As you put yourself in your opponent’s shoes your empathetic towards your rival and hence, strong negative emotions suddenly start disappearing and you are able think more clearly. Result..a healthy debate or as they term it in management and corporate culture a “Constructive Conflict” ensues.

Unfortunately, not many cultures around the world give much of significance to listening. Japanese for one, have a different style of communicating and place a great deal of attention to what is being communicated to them. They are adept listeners and observe minute details, like body language and tone of the speaker, while the conversation happens.

While a constructive conflict sounds very much like an ideal case scenario, the practical situation as we had learned way back in our science classes, is quite different from the theory. In real world, there are heated debates, aggressive arguments and lot of negative emotions and live drama is involved.

Sadly, none of the solutions discussed in our conflict management classes are utilized in pragmatic situations in life. This is mainly because rarely people have the level of patience and a balanced sense of understanding while they are engrossed in a fiery exchange of words. Clearly, high level of self awareness is an exceptional trait.

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