Friday, 29 June 2012

At the Crossroads of Life # 1

At the Crossroads of Life. Surely everyone has been there at some point of time.

Had been vacillating for close to half a year over whether my Career as a Life Insurance and Financial Professional had any appeal left left in it for me.

Not being a Hard-Nosed decision maker who goes strictly by 'the Best Option' available method, throughout my working span of thirty years I have been following whatever happens to be my Passion at that point of time.

Now this might appear to many that I'm fickle minded. Well that I'm certainly not. Its not only boredom that bothers me, but the lack of that burning desire to achieve greater heights in that career/ profession that sounds a warning bell: time is up! Have to call it a day here and move on to something that gets me wholly involved.

Another of my traits is that I tend to switch careers when I'm somewhat at my peak, rather than when I'm being reminded of the futility of toiling on.

It's been quite an eventful journey over the last thirty years and three phases..

Started off assisting my Uncle in our family business: indirectly linked to showbiz. A modern Offset Printing press (at that time) fitted out with German and British make machinery, which used to supply Posters in all sizes and shapes for Cinema hoardings- yes they existed and thrived at that time of no Television and insignificant Radio presence.

The other connection with the wonderful world of Cinema was our Movie Theatre which, when opened in 1976, was acclaimed to be the most modern and well designed of its kind in the entire stretch of extended Mumbai suburbs.

That was a learning ground as good as any for me. Sheer hard work, discipline, surviving the travails of tortuous daily commutes, the local trains, and pathetic Infrastructure- if you could call it infrastructure at all! A telephone call from Vasai to Mumbai meant a Trunk call which could at times get you connected the next day. The erratic Power supply would throw the production schedules out of gear at crucial times. 

To make it even more excruciating was my health: I was a chronic and critical Asthma patient who needed Emergency aid at the oddest of hours and was grossly underweight.

The tougher the set of Challenges, the better the Learning from them.

After being all at sea when I joined, I slowly (painfully slowly) picked up the ropes.

Crisis brings about an Opportunity.
It happened when my Uncle suffered a massive heart-attack and there was suddenly no one at the helm of the sizeable organisation. Since he had two daughters, both very young at time, the onus fell on me.

The drawback of many a family business without a succession plan is that a capable leader as a replacement is non-existent at such times.

Was I prepared for the challenge? With my track-record few would have counted on me to deliver, not that I'd blame them!

That is when I realised how much I had learnt from my Uncle and his amazing Organisational abilities: He was nothing short of Genius level!

Although he was available to guide me, his poor health meant he was out of bounds for a long, long period.

I came though with flying colours- his assessment, not mine. To a point that the enterprise actually flourished. Seven years was my stint here, seven life formative years.

My late Uncle, had been my Godfather right through childhood and what I owe to him is immeasurable.

He gave me the biggest Compliment of my life when he said I had repaid all his obligations bestowed on me. No, he was too magnanimous a person to suggest I owed him any, it was  just his way of thanking me.

The 7 year itch which made me call it quits was a very, very difficult decision to make. What I owed him, was weighing me down and impeding my decision making process.

What brought about the discontent in the first place? Being a hierarchical Business, there was little scope for me to grow once my Uncle regained his health a bit and took charge again.

It was literally suffocating: my free-flowing style of working as against his set-in-a-mould ways. A larger concern was over Ethics: even at that early age, I had set for myself the highest standards in Ethics, Quality and fairplay. 
These core issues caused a tussle between us, until a stage where it became unbearable.

The problem could have been due to difference in perceptions: He had started his enterprise in the 1960's under tremendous difficulties, when the Licence Raj ruled, business meant 'Dirty' by default and cutting corners was the only way to survive. 

I still recall the day I informed him, with a heavy heart about my intention to choose my own path. He graciously accepted my decision there and then. Our relationship had deteriorated over the last few years to a point of acrimony. 

Time heals like nothing else can. As the years rolled on, our bonding grew to such an extent that, years after his passing away, I miss him every single day of my life.

Whatever little I have achieved today is due to my magnificent Uncle's guidance, support and Leadership skills.

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