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Monday, November 13

Explore and Be YOU!

I turned 32 this July. Makes me closer to 40, than 20. 

(No, there's no shame in asking a woman her age or a woman divulging it herself. Enough with these sweeping generalizations! So passe, and derogatory to women AND men of the new world ...)

While some would consider aging disheartening, I believe it's wonderful to be in your 30s - you're more sure about yourself and life in so many ways. People can only judge you now, they can't change you (for better or worse) and you know yourself and your goals with more clarity and honesty. Your childhood ambitions of being a celebrity have either been realised or not, by this time, and you have a fair idea of whether you will make it at all, thereby leading you to consider options more within your reach. For all you know, the old goal might not resonate with you anymore, and you find peace and passion in something alternative that you never imagined would be your calling.

When I look back now at my life, I see myself as a product of so many institutions and experiences. Unique, yet common. I was born and raised in Pune, like million other kids. Bullied like a few hundred. Teacher's pet, and the only one called Anuja Rathi. I went to Abhinava Vidyalaya and then Fergusson College, like thousand other folks. But I was among the few who scored a rank in merit, something that meant the world to me and my family then, but hardly matters now. Onward to a masters in Psychology and a career in training like hundreds of kin, where I am recognised as a model in my area of profession and social circle.

What's your USP?

What makes you unique? 

I don't obviously mean one in 7.6 billion (check this crazy clock!) or even one in 1.34 billion (that's India's count of today) - but at least one among many. What makes you YOU?

This couldn't possibly come out of your education or career, since there would be innumerable others that join the same institutions. It could not be hobbies either, unless there are some solid level achievements. For instance, Himanshu Agrawal from Mumbai made the largest origami giraffe in 2009, and set a world record. What remains unsaid, is that incidentally there were 9 others who helped him with this triumph, and did not get a mention despite being at it for 12 hours... 

So well, what's your selling proposition? 

If you don't know yet, it's time to find out. Explore yourself, ask what you have done that makes you proud and worthy. What do you carry within you that makes you someone to cherish? Or despise. Your wickedness is a USP, too, if you do it well enough. Depends on you whether you want to make it known and market it. There's always takers. For everyone. And everything. The price needs to be right, and the market needs to be discovered or created. 

Let me help you get some perspective. The typical hiring question posed my interviewers, "Why should we hire you?" What answer can you give that will get you a spot on the payroll or board of whatever?

There's bound to be at least one thing that makes you feel good about yourself. There could be many as well. Find them out, each one of them. That is your key to success.

Don't go by what others say about you, don't even start with "others call me/say I am ...." cos others don't know you really. Your inner voice will give you a true response. Others may know me as strong and certain, but I know how weak and lost I am inside. Who do I resonate with? Who feels more me? I am an ambivert, but a lot of people would tag me otherwise given my expressed personality and choice of profession. 

There's an interesting model called Johari window, where you (and others) learn about yourself and maximise the Open Arena. That could be a starting point. But I'm guessing that by this time, if you're still reading, you have already zeroed down to a few adjectives about yourself that are real, even if not acceptable to society or self. You may not want to reveal it, but by now, you do know it... What is it that sets you apart in your team/org/circle. Not merely describes you, but defines you. Figure out.

Your looks? What you wear? Whether you dance well or not? What are your vital stats? All temporary. Your confidence, now that's what stays. While many believe that women dress ti impress men, it's a long guarded secret that women want to look pretty first for themselves, and then for other WOMEN. Men be darned. 

Compliments and insults only hit, when you are insecure or assured about something, else they miss.

So, what is it that you bring to the table, partner?

Don't be afraid to be yourself. That's the best and only person you can be. There are too many others anyway....

Chin Up!
Anuja
    

Thursday, November 2

Search for the Elusive

All that glitters is not gold. Yet, each black cloud has a silver lining. 
Although, birds of a feather flock together, familiarity breed contempt. 

Life is full of these dichotomies. Contradictions galore. 
In life, in values, in people and in choices.

Lately, I've become more intolerant with people because I can see through their untruthfulness and I cannot stand it. While I am no Satyawaadi Harishchandra myself, I do make an honest attempt to do the right thing and tell the truth, no matter how bitter and the resulting consequences. I agree life is full of greys, but that statement applies to some situations, and not all, as conveniently exploited by those up to good. 

They say patience with family is love, and patience with others is respect. 

I find it hard to respect people who are not being genuine or generous. Those who pretend and those who are self-centred. No wonder then I am known for being the devil's advocate and calling a spade a spade at work and home. I'm liked and despised in equal measure, yet I quite like this quality where I make no bones about it. Makes me respect myself, else I'd be just like one of those lying buggers teeming out there. 

Diplomacy is a good alternative, I have heard. The unfortunate bit is most people do not understand sarcasm or tact, and go about doing what they're doing anyway, with zero regard to other folks and the impact of their actions.

The elusive gentleman and lady. Why art thou so rare?!!

Someone who is abusive at home is popular as kind and liberal by colleagues. Someone who is outwardly pleasant but vicious inside is lauded as sweet and nice. Even Rama who was the Purush-ottam (the perfect man) did injustice by Sita when he chose to be a worthy king first rather than a good husband. What did Sita get in return for all her hardship, loyalty, love and faith? She was cast away in the woods, pregnant and sorrowful. Our fates are anyday better than that godwoman, despite our intents and acts being worse.

As I learnt about Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott, so many epiphanies surfaced - that there are "mokitas" where people do not openly talk about issues, that relationships die when honest conversations stop, and that we need to approach Coaching and Confrontation very differently than we usually do. Unfortunately, our culture inhibits us from being "Fierce". Meekness is taught and valued, flattery and gossip gets you places. Good leaders and true friends are hard to find, and competence and transparency can only get you so far. People are nice to each other only for a time and purpose, and relationships are forgotten the moment the tangible outcomes wane. 

They say it takes a strong man to deal with a strong woman, and I completely agree. As I see some of my female friends and colleagues hunt for a decent match, the narrow-mindedness of most men appals us, whereas it's a relief to know about it sooner than suffer later. Is it any surprise then that most individuals either remain single all their lives, waiting for someone compatible and real, and many couples either separate or cheat? 

It's Kal-Yug. The dark age. The darkness is more real now than anytime else. My patience is weaker, endlessly subjected to all that is not authentic, capable, human. The suggestion online and offline is meditation, but that's a long, lonely road my mind is not prepared to take. Choose your battles, they say - sometimes peace is more important than being right. 

As I count my blessings, I pray for honesty - in our lives, relationships, careers and society. 

Love and Luck to all of ye,
Princess
           

Goodbye, Abba - You shall be missed

Subhash R Rathi. A man of umpteen roles and talents. He was a son, brother, husband, uncle, grandfather, partner, colleague, friend, advisor...