Sometime in the early 90s on Doordarshan, Dimple Kapadia was asked if there was anything about her life that she would change. A few weeks ago, while filling up a personality questionnaire, I was asked the same question. I don't know if I can genuinely claim to have 'arrived', but I can't resist sporting a smug smile when I say that at some minuscule karmic level, Dimple & I are in the same league – wherever that is.
That set me thinking. If a left-of-field question could make me travel back 20 years, why not just lace a post with 40 observations & pontifications - some gleaned from my life and many by watching others live theirs – as I enter my fourth decade? Not only would it be a welcome change from my (ir)regular dose of structured seriousness, it would also make me feel less guilty about parlaying my voyeuristic insights into the public bathhouse called the internet.
1. Adolescent scrawny kids sporting thick glasses, possessing average social skills and suffering from perpetual foot-in-the-mouth syndrome come out ok.
2. Foot-in-the-mouth syndrome has limits. Read here for a profound lesson.
3. For the record, smooth-talking kids turn out ok too.
4. The queue other than the one you are in always moves faster. This applies to traffic queues, promotion queues (at work), and bus ticket queues. Erratic switching between queues and creating Nobel-Prize-level algorithms make things worse.
5. Learn to enjoy the journey more than the destination. A dustbin and an exam helped me understand this.
6. Hard work trumps intelligence.
7. Knowing what to say, when to say, and how to say trumps hard work.
8. It is perfectly fine to have crazy meaningless goals sometimes. I once called an illogical flash of insight ‘10-20-30’ for wanting to work in 10 countries, sight-see in 20, and visit 30 US states. After a 7-9-27 record over 18 years, I am glad I came up with it.
9. Never forget to say Thank You. With a Smile.
10. Never forget to say Sorry. With Empathy.
11. Add Highly Expensive Gift to the above rule when saying sorry to wife / girlfriend.
12. For a lady apologizing to her husband / boyfriend, a kiss is enough. Men come cheap.
13. Remain grounded. Because however good you are, someone will be better.
14. Don't fret about your company not caring about 'long term' employees and hiring 'outsiders' at higher pay. Stuff happens. Ultimately, incomes for EVERYBODY average out.
15. NEVER let money guide your career decision. Yes - this is basic stuff, but I am amazed how many people want to learn this the hard way.
16. Volunteer for hard, thankless, or boring jobs at work. These are surefire ways to get noticed.
17. Work presents opportunities to both roll up your sleeves to jump into the pit and staying above to guide your team. Success is figuring what to do when. So master both strategy and tactics.
18. Work-life balance doesn’t exist. Aspire for work-family balance. That is called Life.
19. Someone at some moment will ignorantly mark the entire world in 'To' and not in 'bcc'. The result will be a nerve-wracking typhoon of glorious email replies including about 50 that will say 'Please do not reply to all'. In moments like this, BREATHE.
20. Official conference calls and apartment association meetings have one thing in common. Everyone believes it is their democratic right to offer useless opinions without taking ownership. In moments like this, BREATHE DEEPLY.
21. Read. It irrigates your thinking.
22. Travel. It polishes your thinking.
23. Watch TED talks, enjoy late-night comedy and listen to music.
25. Never let perfect be the enemy of the good.
26. Don't try the above line while talking to wife.
27. Be kind.
28. Keep your promises. That alone builds trust.
29. Cherish, nurture and cultivate relationships. You will learn so much from them and will have so much to offer.
30. The quietest person in the room holds the most answers. Seek that person.
31. Have role models. They keep you aligned.
32. Be a role model to others. They keep you from straying.
33. Develop a moral compass. It will point you to your True North.
34. The best counsel you get during moments of self-doubt is from the person in the mirror. Developing the ability to objectively listen to that person is called introspection.
35. What goes around comes around. Therefore, be careful and considerate with your actions.
36. Dreams always come true, but not when you want them or how you want them. Accept this with grace.
37. Be a sponge. Always.
38. Giving provides the greatest meaning.
39. You will discover true unconditional love.
40. Your life will oscillate between staying content and remaining hungry. The level of balance that you seek between the two is your autobiography.