Know thyself, and stand by it. ~ Shashi Joshi

Via on Mar 31, 2010

Shashi Joshi Photography: Child on Boat

Know Thyself

It is very important to know oneself. Be it spiritually, or practically. In real world’s success, one must know oneself: likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, abilities, skills and interests. This applies to startup entrepreneurs or to large scale leaders of masses. We need to know what ticks us and what ticks us off.

A lot of startup businesses fail. One of the main reasons is not knowing oneself properly. Is this a short term excitement, or am I in it for long term? Am I doing this because it is a cool thing to do that will make me lots of money? Even though my heart is not into it? Socrates to modern workshops all say – know yourself.

If you run for a type of job just because it gives more money, even if you don’t like the subject, you may be more miserable than happy; for money can’t buy happiness, even if you shop at the right exclusive stores. Not everyone is cut out to be a lawyer; many of us have some ethics left! Not everyone can be a doctor, no matter what the Indian parents want their children to be. The crux of the latest Hindi blockbuster movie ’3 Idiots’ is just that.

It doesn’t mean to escape from work and responsibility, but to understand yourself and be content with what your personality allows you to do and succeed, less or more.  Find yourself, flourish in your strengths rather than fall in your weaknesses.

Proper Initiative

The wise don’t just talk and plan. They finally start it as well. Some think of this as grabbing opportunity; some call it beating the competition while they slept. New markets are opened, new ideas are unleashed. Ideas without execution are nothing. Great idea – $20; great idea with execution – $20 million!

Taking initiative also takes guts. The wise, the leader, the innovator has both – idea and execution. Execution needs team work, and getting a proper team is another story, but the wise doesn’t let ideas sit idle, they take initiative. Even when others think it is not possible, or not wise to do so. But someone stands alone in the storm with a candle with determination to get it done.

And proper initiative, a planned one; not haphazard, unplanned one. Those are set for failure even before starting.

Forbearance

We all are taught to handle sorrow, to bear the pain. ‘What doesn’t kill us, builds character’ (Calvin’s dad in Calvin and Hobbes comics). But in leadership, in life, we need to learn to handle both – success and failure, joy and sorrow. Many times, we don’t expect success and underplay it when we get it. Many times, we have not had enough failures that when we get success, it gets to our heads, for we have not seen failure yet.

There is a saying in Hindi, which roughly translates in English as – “one who has not seen misery, is the most miserable (pitiable).” Handling success is also necessary, for the higher we rise, the greater the fall. Many companies during the boom times went bust soon afterwards because the initial success got to their heads; they didn’t think properly, plan for future, or foresee competition approaching from the faster lane!

Many become relaxed, off guard, out-right arrogantly blind when the aroma of initial success hits the nostrils. This is the intoxicant that makes them slide into slumber, makes them useless. It is important to be the underdog. You can think of corporate examples of how companies, who started small and grilled out, kept their senses even in heights of success. While those who didn’t struggle, made easy success, and lost it quickly as well. Easy come, easy go.

Steadfast In Core Values

This is very important but not many understand its importance or even the meaning. Before you started on the endeavor/project/company/success trail, you had some missions, core values, and life principles. You would never compromise them, even for a million bucks. You knew it all too well, ‘I am never going to get a million bucks, so what is the harm in promising myself?’

Then one day, you get success. It is all so great now, VCs are lined up, stocks are going up, and client list becomes too long to print! And you have tasted success. Now you start thinking bigger, faster success. And some principles you had, core values in those idle days, seem to be slowing you down. Ethics? Slow pace to smell the roses? Honesty? Compassion? Service? And soon you find you don’t even care!

Or you get into hard times. Survival is difficult. Business is down. You see no other way out but to compromise. On what – quality, core values, honesty? “Well, these are the days we live in, it is a dog eat dog world after all. The big fish eats the smaller fish.” There is no end to rationalization.

These are the times, both of success or failure when you forget what you started as, the core values, which defined you, your small business startup; when you dreamt of just a small success so you could leave the regular 9-5 job and be on your own. Who would have thought you would hit it so big, so soon! Or sink so fast.

These are the times, you should stand by your core values that you had before you rose or sank, which you had made in sober mind. For if you change your core values, you didn’t change the world (as you had set out to), but got changed for the wrong.

Stand for something, or you will fall for anything. Be true to yourself.

-Shashi Joshi

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