Every entrepreneur is warned that he has to let-go his personal life before he ventures out on his own. I never really bought into the fear of risk nor loosing your personal time. For I always believed that if you strived enough, you could still get time for your game of tennis in the morning, help your wife a bit (well, atleast you can pretend to help her!), find time to relax and yet work like there never is going to be tommorow!
I thought I maintained that balance quite well for a long time. But recently I realize I am getting addicted to work. I realize that I have not taken a single day off from work in a few months at a stretch now - no sundays, no festivals, no nothings!
I tried justifying it and rationalizing it. But my mind now is kind of stubborn and repeats a very tough question. Is it ok to be addicted to work?
Being a Workaholic - is that acceptable? How different is the lust for work different from lust for alcohol or women? Not very! An addiction is an addiction! Just that being workaholic is a little more culturally accepted norm and probably a little more respected compared to lusts of other categories!
If you go and ask a woman who smokes, she probably would shrug her shoulders and say .. hey you just dont belong to 'my culture'! That doesn't make smoking right - does it? I am not talking about just health reasons here - I am talking about it in a broader scheme of things and I think I would never encourage anyone to smoke. Now half my friends smoke, that doesnt make me hate them - but surely that does not make me approve of the act either!
Now, given my strong reservations against any kind of addiction, do I excuse myself from being addicted to work? I could not play for a month (ofcourse my knee is hurt - but thats an excuse only for a week), and I could not even spend much time with my wife who is carrying a 4 month year old baby! Why? Loads of work! Its not the time I spend at work that disturbs me - but the fact that I could not just leave it at office and it keeps constantly revolving in my mind... which earlier was never the case. But these days it scares me if I am getting addicted to work!
Being workaholic may be socially acceptable and in some cases even be laudable. But for me there are some universal, invariant principles which do not depend on interpretation of culture! And one such rule that I have been learning over the last few months has been not to get addicted to any damn thing in this world - NOTHING!
Can I walk away from anything in this world and not think about it for the second time if need be? Now that does not mean I want to avoid work and not contribute. I feel blessed to have been given the intelligence and energy levels to deliver and contribute in my own little ways to the people around me. And I will never retire into "not doing anything". I want to work with the same energy that I have now... but if need be, I want to be able to switch to ONLY the present.
If I am at home and I talk to my mother, I want to be present just there... not think about office emergencies! Perhaps I am getting there.. or so I thought!
But then I am not too sure how much progress I have made in that direction. Since I did not have a break from work in a few months, a couple of days ago, I called S and proposed that we go out for a long drive. He was ready. I had to break from work! I just had to! We drove around, spent some time in coffee day and off we were driving again. In the beautiful rain that lashed out, we were chatting till I realized it was 1:30 am! And I was about to head home after dropping him at his appartments. Thats when I realized the irony... that I ended up discussing the next expansion plans of my company and validating strategy, processes, pricing and what not with my classmate! The very thought scares me... am I that deeply addicted to work?
It scares me... But the only silver lining is that this has been only a recent phenomena. And since the symptoms have been diagnosed quite early, I hope to curb the addiction with a little more effort!
Friday, August 1, 2008
I remember when I was in my late teens, I was almost arrested by the police because I stood up and raised my voice against a policeman using unfair force in bullying a rather helpless guy at the railway station. If not for the timely intervention of my dad who came running from behind, I would have ended up being beaten up and thrown in the jail that evening.
For a long time I have been struggling to understand why I have lost that "courage" to stand up for what I believe is right. Was it education? Was it the "influence" of people around me preaching me how important it was to be "diplomatic" and "practical"? I know not, but I surely confess that I had lost a few of my traits and regretfully even compromised on my value system.
I remember a few years ago, I picked up sprite and poured it in my glass and not my usual 'orange' colored mirinda/fanta at a party. Why? Because I wanted people to think I was sipping vodka! I didnt want to be the only guy left out from the "crowd". To be "cool", may be I wanted them not to know that I keep away from alcohol.
A couple of months ago, I saw a grasshopper perched on my bike mirror. In an attempt to get it back onto the tree, I accidentally hit it the other way. It fell right in the centre of the road instead of the trees on the side. I kept looking at the little green creature trot and trying to move to the other side of the road. With so many vehicles whizzing past, it was not an easy task. I kept looking but did not budge to help it - inspite of the fact that I was the guy who was actualy responsible for it to be thrown into that situation. Why? I was thinking "what would the onlookers think of me? That I would go with a paper and save such a small insect and leave it back in the trees?"
I could not stop thinking of the grasshopper even while I was driving back home. Something kept haunting me that yet again I failed to stand up for what came from my heart. I still can remember the little green fellow and the "dot-like" eyes it used to stare right back into mine while it was perched on my bike mirror. I still feel as if it was asking me "was it more important to give into your false ego than to save me from a potential runover by a truck?"
A month ago, I saw a few guys sleeping on the footpath. I just walked on, as if to say "I do not care!" But something kept haunting me again... is it right for me to just walk away from the incident? Am I really that helpless? Would I not have bent backwards to keep one of my customers delighted! And if that earns me a tag of being "extremely professional in business", then what shameful tag should it earn me to just walk away as if I was blind to the poverty and despair around me?
I do not know when I last had even a weekend for myself away from work. Am I running away from a stream of disturbing thoughts that seem to be comming up from deep inside by keeping myself insanely busy? I am not able to answer my own conscience if I have lost my way somewhere in between.
I ought to change myself. And I resolve to do that. And the little step in that would be that I will not hesitate to express and execute what I think is right - atleast in small ways.
I started gazing at the moon as I walk back from home every night from work amidst the cool breeze and I tell myself that I am made by the same creator that made that white heavenly sphere. And I also tell myself that even that moon is not blemishless but it still is so beautiful. So with all the weakness I have, I still wish to make an effort to bring out some beauty in the life around me.
And last week, I was on the tennis court, I am terribly proud that I stopped, picked up an ant from the court and left it in the safety of the grass blades outside the court. This I did while the other three players waited and were looking and smiling at what I did! Now, thats a small step in the direction I want to go... I do not want to be ashamed or feel shy to express what I think is right! I want to live for myself - and with my beliefs even if the whole world mocks at them. I pray that God gives me the courage and will power to stand up for what is right.