Read at your own risk

Warning: To stop train, pull chain. Improper use punishable. Penalty Rs 500.

Think Bubble: That’s not so expensive!

Warning: Do not spray deodorant in eyes.

Think Bubble: Whoa! What if the eyes aren’t mine?

Warning: Dogs not allowed!

Think Bubble: Oh you mean not allowed to read this?

If you have had a smile, my mission is accomplished. However, that’s just my mission not my objective for you this month.  Ladies and gentlemen. Behold! As this article may steal your morning sleep. It may disturb your comforts. It may snatch away your self-assurance. It may change your course of lives. If you are ready for all this, read on.

I am a little nostalgic today. Cannot help but recall the time when I was 22. Young, full of ideas, enthusiastic and most importantly, what my seniors called it ‘passionate’.  I had a dream to work in one of the best Media houses in the country called The Times of India.

However, the city supplement of the Times wasn’t doing so well those days. So my editor at The Free Press Journal, warned me against joining it. He was right.  Many of my seniors said the Indore supplement didn’t have much scope to do. A few told me to join the Mumbai edition. My friends told me they would start reading it if I joined. Former reporters of Indore Plus complained of delay in pay cheques.  A few marketing guys told me that the Branch Head is a Hitler, he wont let you do anything new with it. The list of warnings was endless.

I was suddenly apprehensive.  Till few days ago, I was excited on clearing the written test and interview at the Times.  And then my brain suddenly had so many ‘What ifs’.  I spoke to my only confidant- my father. To my surprise he said, “If so many people are asking you to not do it,  then you have every reason to go ahead and do it.”

I have never looked back since then. That one year and a half gave me a chance to edit the first time ever published Anniversary Edition of Indore Plus, to write and co-ordinate special supplements on Career, Management, Beauty and Fashion, Architecture and Design and a host of such lifestyle stories. 

And so when I had done it all, I felt like moving on and trying my hand in something I hadn’t done before.  I felt familiar voices that echoed a year before shouting ‘No, Don’t’.  Yes, I smiled. Happy at the prospect of taking a RISK again!

A year before, I wanted to join a brand. A year later, I wanted to BE THE BRAND! That’s when I ventured into freelance writing and delved a bit into teaching English.  And believe me guys, not for a moment have I ever regretted this risk too. 

Having said that, I would add that every risk may not promise a rosy picture later. Afterall, it is a risk!  And so when I was chosen to conduct a Language Skills Programme  as part of Corporate Training at Ranbaxy Dewas,  I thought for a moment. Is this risk too worth taking ? Only time would tell.

The challenge was not ‘what’ I was teaching but ‘who’ I was teaching.  My students were not certainly 20-year olds this time but people who were double my age, experience, stature, profession, intelligence and even height! 

The scene of my first session with Project, Accounts, Delivery and Dispatch, Marketing, Laboratory, Shop Floor managers- is still so vivid in my mind.  If I said that I was bowled over by their take on language, their logics and their intelligence right in the first few minutes of my session- it would be an understatement.

I still quiver at the thought of their hostile intelligence and unbeatable arguments.  At the end of the session, I felt my self-esteem shattered to pieces, my pride on my language skills beaten. Most importantly, I got a taste of humility that I had been missing for so long in the midst of good student feedbacks back at CH.

It was risky, to say the least. My personal attributes and professional skills were challenged. Being the first such assignment (on language skills), it meant a great deal to CH. The pressures and stakes were very very high. 

I decided to swim against the current. And worked with a renewed zeal on my weaker areas- in my material, in my delivery and in my attitude.  Soon things began to fall in place. One of my teachers helped me realize that you cannot teach older people, you can only empathise and co-work with them. 

Right from the second session to the 10th, I maintained a respect and admiration for their questions; I made them realize their weaknesses in language and finally succeeded in making them really ‘learn’. In turn, they taught me to be patient, humble and accommodating.

Now as I reply the SMSs and mails of many of those managers- who have never lost touch with me during the last one year- I thank God for letting me take the one risk that made me a student once again! 

I am tempted to quote an SMS of one of these managers. It said, “Ships are safest at the harbour. But they are not meant for it.”

If the penalty amount written on the compartment had scared that poor young man, he wouldn’t have saved the life of two children making their way inside the moving train.

If that brave call centre girl hadn’t used her deodorant kept in her purse, miscreants on a Mumbai street would have killed her.

If Adman Piyush Pandey had chosen to be intimidated by ‘Dogs not allowed’ warning, we wouldn’t have fallen so much in love with the ‘Hutch dog’.

People achieve extraordinary things only in extraordinary and risky circumstances. You cannot be different and special if you don’t take risks in life.  It is part of living it to the fullest. And as I always say, “A risk is worth taking.”


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