Inspiration, LIfe

Call me Stupid

It was about 14 years ago that we decided to make the move from Vadodara, a small city in India to Sydney. I was HR Manager with a very large engineering conglomerate. It was a great job, one where the VP of the business was continuously challenging me to do stuff way beyond my comfort zone. When I told him I was going to Australia his response was typical. “you need to get your head checked”.

And he gave me this book called Hope for the Flowers. It is about the foolish caterpillar who keeps “leaving” what he is doing in search for “what else is out there”…

it is getting dull

and then he realises he needs to hang upside down for a while. And then he will become a butterfly and fly.

Ahem. I am still waiting 🙂

And I wonder what I will find.

I know no different. I quit working a year or so ago. “It was getting dull”. I felt like I was missing out on life. The life that was possible.

I don’t know that it was conscious at the time that I was taking on the role of a change agent… helping the management team work through a request from our transgender employee who wanted to use the female toilets in our offices. In my head it was simple. Be honest. It is a legitimate request.

I managed a big move of our offices from a dingy stuffy building to an open beautiful building… more space, more meeting areas, plenty of parking.. I thought working through the issues is the way forward. It was tough moving forward surrounded by a couple of men who wanted to be heroes. I didn’t know how to play power games. The move which could have been a celebration felt like a battlefield.

These men were hugely successful in their careers. And here is this midget saying lets invest in becoming effective leaders. “What?” Start with those folks in the middle first. We talked about having a great culture. How about we measure whether our people are engaged? “Convince everyone else, and then I am on board” says my boss.

We got there. We measured engagement. We talked about it. We got people to understand it, take action and measure again. And we got traction. We started investing in our leaders. And yes, the executive team got on board. And we had the most amazing conference where the executive team participated in a world cafe where the entire organisation got talking about how we will get to where we wanting to get to.

“It was getting dull”.

So I quit… that was 11 years later. “What would it be like in a Not For Profit Organisation”… that is what I wanted. Now who would want me? “I was too corporate and would not want to get my hands dirty”… Someone was game. Thank you!!! So I had this awesome short term job where I become acquainted with an organisation that works on the toughest social agendas with no security of income, reliant on government funding on a short term basis and quickly realised that there is plenty to do in setting up and plenty more that someone else could do much better than me.

So another corporate job. They measured engagement and had not looked at the results. So that was easy. Lets understand this, act on it, measure it again. Lets invest in ourselves for a bit too. “You are asking us to do a leadership program?” “We have done plenty of those. I don’t want to go into another one and sing.”

And we did. There was no singing. There was plenty of real talking. A year or so in … “This is unlike any program I have done….”

“It is getting dull”.

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3 thoughts on “Call me Stupid

  1. Bernard Kelly says:

    Great story Gauri – it really resonated with the caterpillar analogy (different context rather than work). I look forward to part 2.

    PS – I was waiting to see in the blog about the great recruiter who put you in that first job – ha ha.

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