So does anybody here know how many times the caterpillar hangs upside down waiting to turn into a butterfly?
It was 16 years ago that my then boss’s boss gave me this book “Hope for the Flowers” when I told him that I am going away to Australia. He also thought I should get my head checked. Why would I leave a career in HR with Larsen & Toubro Limited to go to a foreign land where Indians were not respected?
Or something similar. Maybe not exactly that. It is true though, that it was unlikely that any Australian hirer would recognise XLRI or L&T. Someone did. And some other.
It is a bit irrelevant though. Because this, really is the story of my life. How many times have I hung upside down, waiting to become the butterfly.
First, though, I must acknowledge what prompted me to leave my glass of wine to come here and write.
I am reading “The Adversity Advantage” and I stopped when I read ” I’ve always had a restless voice inside me, which seemed to speak loudest when my life felt a bit stagnant”
Chapter 1: Growing up, my mum said I must study. “why can’t you come first” she laments. “If you study, you will”. And I retort, “why mum? is it so you can talk about it in your kitty parties?” “no” was my answer. I did study more than I cared to. Only because I thought it is important to get into where I want to, so I can do what I want to. I got the marks I needed in Year 10 ( Mount Carmel, Ahmedabad) to get into the best High School, St.Xavier’s High School. And then enough there to get into the best Commerce College in Ahmedabad. Though of course, I could have gone to New Delhi perhaps. And then, it was not about marks any more. Well, of course you needed to be close enough to a Distinction. Mainly though, it was about a test of your Math & Logical abilities…..
Chapter 2: Working: The first job. I hated it. It was my first interview on campus at XLRI and I took it. Oberoi Hotels. We were a bunch of 6 MBAs and were training with the Hotel Management Grads. So learning to make Moussaka, chop chicken “properly” handle the front office, know all the wines in all the regions of the world. Three months in, I knew it was wrong. So I quit. Especially after within the first month at the Head Office, the VP HR expected that I “escort” the HR folks visiting us from our Egypt Office to shopping Delhi. Hmmm. And I was “told” to be “more appropriate” when we dined with Mr. Oberoi.
Chapter 3: That first “campus” recruitment lasted four months and I found myself in Baroda. Where my sweetheart was. The one who was a friend and became a sweetheart 8 years on. No one knew what XLRI was. So from being coveted by multi-nationals, I went a beggin for a job! I landed and quit about 6 different jobs in about 2 years. I quit again when we were expecting our first baby. And a year or so later landed a job with IPCL, a large petrochemicals business in India. 5 years there and then, thankfully, there was an opening with Larsen & Toubro who was setting up in Vadodara at the time. Those 10 years were fabulous experience, where I was very lucky to be inspired by a few brilliant leaders. Until I got restless again. What am I missing?
Chapter 4: Australia. My boy was 10 & girl 6. We decided to pack a bag and move. If we got a job that recognised our experience & qualifications, we would stay. If not, go back. That was in 2000. 13 years later. I was starting to get bored. I am most proud of engaging senior leaders and securing their commitment to investing in their own development and creating enduring processes that create the environment for people to do their best work. What am I missing out on though by coming in and out of work everyday? What about travelling? What about doing something different? Every time I went to India, there was a tug. I feel disturbed about the fact that some women don’t get to have a shower in private. That people are displaced from their homes in villages and don’t get a decent quality of life when they migrate into cities for work. I quit work. That was 2013.
Chapter 5: 2016 Feb. Here I am. What happened in the last two years? Can’t quite account for it except to say that there hasn’t been a single day that I got bored. I cannot say either exactly what I have achieved? I had no goals. No plans. I have woken up each morning and done what my heart desires. I have studied. Read books. Written a few blogs. Or not. I fell into making soaps. And learnt how to do Facebook 🙂 I learnt marketing. And whilst I was doing that, I kept nursing my desire to bring EI education into schools. To make sure every woman has a private place to shower. And late last year, I decided I also want to keep consulting in the area of my expertise.
Because in the end, I am a catalyst. I thrive on change. I absolutely, utterly love any chance to make a difference. However small. Hence why, perhaps for me, turning upside down, slowing down, waiting for what’s to emerge is best. No ambition needed.
Except, I absolutely want to do the Masters in Science Coaching Psychology. I wonder where that might take me 🙂