Tag Archives: #longtermview

The road ahead, not the turn

I recently saw the movie, ‘Stand and Deliver’ based on the real-life story of Jamie Escalante, a math professor. He is famous for teaching calculus to high school students in Garfield High School in East LA. Most of the students are of Hispanic origins who passed the test.

There are a couple of scenes that stood out to me from the movie.

SCENE 1: One of his students wants to quit because his uncle has offered him a job fork lifting and paying him time and a half. And within a year he can have a car of his own.
Jamie takes him a car ride, and as they reach a crossroad, he asks him urgently, ‘Left or Right’. The student in a hurry says, ‘Left, Left.’ and they end up in a dead-end.
Jamie says, ‘Look at the road ahead and not at the turn.’

SCENE 2: One of the students asks Jamie, ‘Are you nervous that we will screw up the test royally, tomorrow?’ Jamie replies, ‘Tomorrow is just a day, honey. I am worried that you will screw your lives.’

Both these scenes stood out of to me because it is evident that Jamie is thinking ahead. He is looking at the road and not the turn.

How many times have we thought of the turn ahead but not the destination – and ended up in a dead-end? How many times have we made a decision because it brings us momentary or short term gains at the expense of long term benefits? Settled for a partner because of social pressure even if it was not the right match. Gone for a job because of prestige even though it was not what you wanted. Went on a fad diet to lose weight only to put it all back.

People will tell you, ‘Marriage is all about compromise.’ or ‘You can do any job for two years.’ And it is tempting, really tempting because at the moment all you want is that desire to be fulfilled. But remember, ‘He who laughs last, laughs the best.’ These are times when you need to anchor to your values. Do you want to spend your life with somebody who is not the best match for you? Do you want to go to work every day knowing this is not the job you wanted?

Another big question, ‘How do I make the decision?’ The most common and annoying answer to that is, ‘Trust your gut.’ But, by the time you get to your gut, you are no longer able to sense it forget about trusting it. Or, sometimes you can hear what your gut is saying, but you do not want to listen. What do you do in these situations?

There is no right or wrong. In the end, the universe always has your back and will get you where you need to be. How you get there might be painful or comfortable, depending on the path you take? Sometimes, you have to remind yourself that its just life – make a decision and move on. The important thing is to be happy and be at peace.

Are you looking at the turn or the road?

VIP – Very Important Person

A scenario from work: Let’s say I have an employee reporting to me and let’s say there are some performance issues. And it is impacting her peers as well. I have a constructive conversation with her and feedback is received well. After a week I check in with her peers. Feedback is positive, and they are surprised by the progress made. As I am about to end the conversation one of them says – “Well, you know I thought that was the end of her.” I asked, “What do you mean?”. He explained, “Well, I thought that we would just let her go.”

In his mind, that was an option. In my mind, it wasn’t – that got me thinking about my style.

100% of Individual is the asset:
I feel strongly about this. When you show up at work – you show up as your entire person, not as 50% of person who shows up for work. Whoever you are – a product of your childhood, circumstances – that entire being shows up at work. If I try to work with you at the deliverables/policies level, then I am just scratching the surface, and it will always be a band-aid. It is a short-term fix – we are only fixing the symptoms – not addressing the cause.

Let’s say as a kid you have been very careless – like forgetting to turn off the light, getting into accidents because your mind is wandering. As you grow up (and assuming you haven’t done anything to address that) you will carry the same trait at work – that will manifest itself in forgetting to update the date in the status report, not remembering to add due dates to action.

Now, I can have a conversation with you about trying to remember to add the dates in the status report, but it might pop up in other areas because the cause of the problem is lack of mindfulness. So, the best way to get to the root of the problem would send the person to mindfulness classes. Unfortunately, our corporate culture is not evolved to that level yet.

So – to summarize keep in mind that you might not be addressing the root of the problem – set your expectations accordingly.

Longer Term View:
Depending on my tolerance level or my take on people I may or may not that let that person go. Let’s say I do let that person go – then what I have done? I have just passed the problem to somebody else who also is a part of the ecosystem I belong to. So, in essence, we are all impacted by it including me – I might not be able to connect the dots right away, but it is a zero-sum game. Most people forget about this and are just concerned about getting their team right. (And I also believe that if you there was a lesson for you to learn then the next person on your team will also display similar issues – you cannot outrun a life lesson)

This does not mean that you don’t put a band-aid on personnel issues or keep people on your team forever because you are looking at the long-term view. Just be aware and balance it with where you are in your journey. I hope this invites you to the think in different ways when it comes to people.