Magical Answers, Anyone!

November 20th, 2010

Last week was one big roller coaster. Everywhere I looked–among friends, team members at office, or myself–we were all in some emotional cul-de-sac. A close friend of mine was heading for a break-up, another was afflicted with a serious health problem that had started affecting both her work and personal life. I was in a mess on the personal front and sulking.

What does one do when one is caught in an emotional trauma–reach for a friend, a guide, a book, a soulmate, God? How does one know what is the right thing to do?

We all fuss and talk about how people handle their personal lives which eventually affects their professional productivity. It amazes me how so much intellectual importance is given to “work–life” balance, yet at some point or the other we find ourselves in a catch-22 situation. No amount of burying your head in the sand or trying to deal with an emotional situation head-on helps.

Why compartmentalise life into “personal” and “professional”? Does one not affect and trespass the other at all time, and vice versa? Is there a clear demarcation that exists with respect to this, or are we just kidding ourselves when we do that? Is there someone out there who has really achieved that ‘balance’?

All this led me to think: what if there were a compulsory subject during our college studies called Life Management  (just like we have specialisations in finance, marketing, history or politics) to teach us a few key life lessons? After all, aren’t the leaders/managers of tomorrow supposed to be more emotionally ‘balanced’ and empathetic with a higher EQ score?

As I discussed this with some of the core members of my team, they all came up with the obvious question - Can life lessons be learnt? It is just that clichéd query – Are leaders born or made?

Work is a source of “unique opium”, said Francois Mauriac, Nobel Prize Winner, to overcome an emotional trauma. Yes, most of us agreed to this fact, though we all have our ways of tiding over a situation. There’s nothing called one-size-fits-all. When push comes to shove and we have to move ahead, you just have to move ahead. Period. That’s the cold reality. No amount of rhetoric will help.

Manshi (name changed on request), working in Mumbai, who experienced breach of trust w.r.t a friend at work, says to overcome the negativity, she had to quit her job. And that she didn’t have to rely on close friend/s or family to overcome the emotional stress. On the other hand, talking to acquaintances or ‘not so close’ friends helped her as “they don’t judge you”, she says.

Avinash Satapathy, an ex-captain of the Indian Army and currently managing his own consultancy services lives with his son Aman, aged seven and wife  Capt Madhusmita Patnaik who is a commander in a private airline. Avinash has ‘balanced’ it quite well as far as his own work, his wife’s work as a pilot and their kids life are concerned.

He feels that the feeling of “our” is very important to achieve this balance in case of a married couple. Avinash enjoys the experience of taking care of his son Aman whenever his wife is flying. He adds that she is not in some office work or typical job. We’r all (including Aman) taking extreme pride in supporting what she is doing. It’s challenging, difficult and trendsetting.

And my answer to my team member who is dealing with his emotional trauma remains the same – there is no magical answer. Yet we all need to deal with it and find our own answers. Somehow!

Readers of this blog are encouraged to share their experiences and help the lost souls dealing with their concerns/confusions in life.

The author is Director, IILM – Business School, Mathura Road, New Delhi

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