Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Out of my comfort zone

Changes are inevitable, and they keep following us through our lifespan. They may catch us unaware at many times, they may take ages to arrive after playing in milieu, they can make you happy, they can render you gloomy, they may bring a brilliant sense of expectation around which you fondly call hope, and they drive us through this journey named life. On hindsight, it’s changes that put together our existence.

Such a change is lingering right beside me, staring at my eyes with a smiling face - it arrived through a lot of contemplations and reached me quite gradually. Yes, I am leaving a much celebrated, coveted family which started out 25 years back with 7 sturdy pillars holding their hands together with nothing more than loads of determination, a place which used to be in the dreams of all of us while we studied, a family which adopted my career at its infancy and made it grow to what it is now, a name that earned me the best hug of my life from my father when they selected me, a company without which I could never dream my life to be what it is – a magnificent place named Infosys. Moving from such a status-quo domicile to a small-by-comparison organization in Cochin raised a few eyebrows. I refrained from giving a bulleted reason list, and reduced it to one easy word of truth which people don’t tend to question further ‘Personal!’.

The life with Infosys family has been a grand ride - with lots of new thrilling experiences during the journey, a lot of passengers – old and experienced, young and thrilled – all who gave a lot of lessons to me, most of the times we went through bumpy landscapes – but that allowed us to cherish each and every destination that we stopped by. I am sure that I was able to imbibe a lot of new thoughts, study specific behavioral details that made some excellent managers here, create a lot of friends and few not-so-good ones, help many of my team members to imagine and work better, tell my opinions frank-on-the-face to people irrespective of their level – which sure resulted in some happy and unhappy incidents, but more than anything this place has paved a way to crystallize my thoughts about what I want to be. The values followed by the founders really makes you aspire and reverie that you can be a person of your dreams. Yeah, I agree that it was not an eternal easy ride; there were moments of frustrations which can clearly be seen in some of my previous posts - On Retrospection, An offer Coolie could not refuse, Ruthless, Well-Balanced Life. Then there was this new high level manager who claims himself to be a ‘great-attitude’ person, who learnt that I am leaving and asked me – “I heard that you are leaving due to some health issues of an immediate relative. You are not lying, right?” – I was wondering if anyone who has a sane heart would lie about these things…So much for culture and professionalism of that person. But, that sure arrives as a ‘part and parcel’ of any large corporation. My life here for past 5 years has been nothing less than good - I was recognized, valued and there was lot of visibility for career growth. I could learn from some exceptional managers in Mohan and Shashank who would really be the examples to follow in life and career, I could lead some exceptionally intelligent talents in Sudhesh and Anirban, both of whom I am sure would soar to radiant heights in their life.

Yes, it would have been real simple to move ahead in this habituated circle of affairs, when you are comfortable with the present and secure with the future. Then there is that human element of change-resistance, where you have that inherent lack of confidence about the new environment and challenges that you are going to be stacked against, and a conscious apprehension about how you will embark upon it. On the top of all these, there are those claws of a circle of distant-relatives, which form that creamy layer of the ‘society’ around you, who will pounce on you with that ‘I told you not-to’ fa├žade, should my new step falter a bit. And stupidly enough, when odds are stacked against, I thought this is the perfect time to call for a change. It’s a road traveled less, a deviation from the abode of opportunities and I am ready for the adventure :).

Also, there is a tenderness that engulfs me, when I know that the gorgeous winged beast that has been carrying me around for the past 1.5 years is no longer with me. We had a great time together, our long trip to Wayanad being the best among the lot. All those early mornings and late nights to/from Infy during my past two ultra-hectic development projects, when the mind would be saturated with the stress surrounding the work, the red Honda Unicorn acted as if it had its own mind. It took my tired physique promptly between places, and carried me around like a close comrade would do. He has been a kind friend, and was too close to me to be drawn apart. The risk involved in transporting him from here to Cochin in freight, the running around that needs to be done with the RTO offices to get him registered in Kerala made me a bit hesitant to take him with me. But, more than anything, the love that struck me when I met that uncomplicated country maiden - a bird that flew with an imposing aristocracy which left me awestruck, made me decide that its time to part. I handed over the keys of my dear friend; to a person I am sure will take care of him like family. Yes - I also bought a Royal Enfield Thunderbird back in Cochin, which would be waiting for me once I get back there. Hopefully, me, PP and Dhanu will all fly in our birds in the 2008 Royal Enfield Himalayan Odyssey.

As I stare at these changes, I realize that the fact is that I have been too used to this life. I was too familiar with the place I was employed, I was confident about the work I was doing, I always had a great time from my gang at home, I have been very unperturbed and easy – and it’s been too comfortable to face any sudden turbulence. Just like it was when in US, I am getting into that narrow zone of ease, that zone of pure comfort and relaxation, which I don’t savor too much for long durations. There is more to life than that, there are more challenges to take and live with. It’s more about reaching forward, clinging to your roots and dragging it along with you. It’s more about striking a balance between life and career. It’s more about doing what you believe you are capable of. It’s mostly about realizing the price tag that you put for yourself. At least, I wish so – when I drive out of the land of opportunities, the garden city of Bangalore which was my home for past 5 years, on August 12, 2006. There is a long long way to go, and I feel sure that I have made the initial few steps right. Or so I hope….as I take leave from my routines, as I move out of my comfort zone....