Saturday, July 05, 2008

Learn to Learn


Last two months have been hectic, tiring to say the least. First it was the joining of a new top person (read CEO) at the business, followed by exit of my immediate Boss. Being a small team, once he was on his way out most of the work which had been performed by us in the last 12 months had to be explained to the new set of people.

New people have new, seemingly better and eager to ‘change-the-world’ ideas. Nothing which is in practice is good enough. Not that we were doing a fabulous job of whatever we were doing. But then, everything was functional and well understood by the current set of people. I agree there were areas to improve on. We were learning.

I started in a company where I was the first Management Trainee (MT) ever taken in a support function. I was a fresher with no previous exposure to any work place of any kind. But, I had a great pack of colleagues. Not one person in the company ever treated me as a Trainee. They expected me to have a solution to situations at all times. Coming from a reputed B-school, atleast in that part of the country (did I say World Famous in India??!!??) has its toll.

Thankfully, my Boss was a person who had been in the company for as many years as the age of the company. He knew exactly what to do with me. On the very first day he had told me, no one knew what to do with me. No one had thought on my utility, if any. I would not have any scheduled Trainee Program nor a Mentor as in other ‘matured’ organisations. Management was hiring MTs because many so called ‘good-to-great’ organisations do so and we want to be a great company one day. Not realizing, between good and great, there may be some more evolutionary steps. Also, one first needs to become a ‘good’ organisation to start treading the path as flash-lighted by some publicly acclaimed thought leader. He told me, I have to learn. And to start learning, I need to know what the best way to do so is? Different people learn differently. He told me, may be he cannot help me learn anything. But, atleast he can try making me realize how do I learn?

And what he taught me shall remain with me all my life. He would point out the moment when not to react than react at the wrong moment, understand the difference between urgent, important and what people may need in life and what they want from life. He had told me, there are things people can do without. But just because someone else has it, we want it too. Not realizing that if they don’t have that, the other person does not have what we have. And if we have to possess that, we will have to give up what we already possess.

It is important to learn. But what is more important is to learn to learn. May be, my Boss was not a jargon throwing, hi-flying, slick and suave, smooth-talker. Guess, what he meant was that I need to have a learning attitude. He may not have taught me much on the professional front. Or may be, he did try teaching me some professional stuff too. But what I learnt from him was more subtle yet stronger. He taught me how to learn. Thank you, Mr. Nair, Prabha Boss to all his learners.


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