Several years ago as an impressionable twenty something just out of B-School, I came across “Only the Paranoid Survive” by Andrew S Grove the founder of Intel, that turned out to be my bible. His lines on managing an individuals career in the Preface cropped up in my mind now and then. “Your career is literally your business. You own it as a sole proprietor. You have one employee: yourself. You are in competition with millions of similar businesses: millions of other employees all over the world. You need to accept ownership of your career, your skills and the timing of your moves. It is your responsibility to protect this personal business of yours from harm and to position it to benefit from the changes in the environment. Nobody else can do that for you”
Through my active corporate career of 15 years in fairly senior positions, time and again I went back to the book that helped me to bounce back determined and ready to face all challenges. Then came a time, I was beginning to lose faith in the way the business in which I worked and earned my bread from, was shaping up. Hours of endless meetings and discussions yielded little but devise yet another Machiavellian Strategy. I was missing that unknown thing which I had stars in my eyes for. As I drove in and out of the office for several weeks wondering “Why?” I was feeling the way I did, I became increasingly aware of the slightly tight muscles in the morning, occasionally painful joints, a rumbling stomach, mild infrequent headaches, ever irritable mind and a soul that seemed out of sync with the body. One evening, I went back to reading “Only The Paranoid Survive” and my favourite lines all over again hoping to find the much needed boost. Instead, it turned out to be an inflection point that opened up a whole new world for me, to take over completely as CEO of the business with millions of employees. A few more weeks of deliberation, I was all set. I exited my corporate position much to the amazement of friends, colleagues and parents who were unable to fathom my new role as CEO in this so called elusive business.
- It was the business which was a start up that my parents had given shape to nearly 4 decades ago and nurtured it carefully for several years with earnest hope.
- It was the business that could potentially fall prey to external environmental changes if not instilled with discipline
- It was the business that is easily influenced, wavering and faltering if the vision and mission is not defined, and if the CEO was not firmly in the chair crumbling under the pressures of friendly and not so friendly jibes.
- It was the business that had millions of employees who needed to be nurtured, motivated and addressed with love, care and attention
- It was the business that was a complex enigma which saw millions retire and come on board every day
- It was the business which had the capacity to run operations all day all night but sensible and timely operation strategy would ensure longevity
- It was the business that had a huge tolerance for input materials but if quality and quantity was managed well then the output would be predictable
- It was the business where any gap in internal communication could spell disaster
- It was the business where disgruntled employees had to be assured immediately lest they form a group and start influencing others and create havoc in the system
- It was the business where warring departments could bring it to a standstill if not attended immediately to
- It was the business where allocation of key resources had to be carefully monitored since most of the functions were automated and used to running in clockwork precision
- It was the business whose MIS had to be accurate and checked at intervals
- It was the business where the CEO had to do internal review daily, remain firmly in the present and always look ahead
Well, before your imagination runs wild, thinking that I had won a jackpot over night to become the heiress of a billion dollar business, I am referring to the Physical Body. Each one of us have been gifted that special start up by the creator through our parents. All we need to do is to take charge as CEO and run it to perfection during our time on earth since no one else can perform that role.
The millions of employees are the cells in our body which go through a growth and renewal process and can be kept healthy through right food at the right time, sleep, positive thoughts, meditation, yoga, creative pursuits, sporting activities, a hobby and everything that feels good. I have been doing it for nearly 2 years now and loving every moment. While single minded attention may be required for businesses in crisis (read sick body) to steer it to stability, the others can be easily addressed with a few changes here and there and a little bit of mindfulness through the day. If this strikes a chord with you, let me know how you are faring as the CEO….I am all ears to know your story!!