The intricacies of resume writing and job search in an automated corporate world

Writing a resume has been the biggest bane of job seekers and sometimes it would seem to be much worse than not getting a job itself. We pore over 100s of different formats available through contacts and on the internet, but we are never sure if our resumes are good enough to land us our desired jobs. This apprehension increases exponentially every time our job applications get rejected by companies when we believe we have applied for the jobs that are the best fits for us. I have gone through all of it and I have learned very important lessons as well.

Now what is the challenge to writing a resume? There are three aspects to a resume. One that represents who we are, the second that positions us in the job market and the third that satisfies job requirements. Then they say resumes cannot be more than two pages long. Freshers and people with less than 3 years experience usually struggle to make their resumes to 2 pages. For people with more than 8 years of experience, the pain is to keep it down to 2 pages. Now bringing together these three aspects into 2 pages does seem like a humongous task, but it really is not.

Most companies now use automated systems to screen resumes which means technology rather than humanity is scanning rather than reading our resumes. Now technology is not intelligent so it is taught to look for keywords. We are traditionally used to writing sentences to describe ourselves so suddenly articulation is not in vogue anymore. We are being made to run helter-skelter in search of keywords. Even job sites are using keywords to filter out and show us jobs that match our profiles. I am wondering how long before keywords get replaced by hashtags.

Keywords represent only industry standard definitions and requirements and has got nothing to do with a person’s skills, abilities and most importantly experience. The primary problem with a resume is that it only allows us to list our activities in our previous and current employment. There is no way to speak out about our experiences through our resumes unless we are called for interviews. A business analyst may have far greater experiences with understanding of different business environments in day to day activities than what is required for a particular job profile but because he/she is not able to express it through the resume, a person assessing the resume will never get to “feel” the way the candidate feels about a job profile. Keywords have only compounded this problem and killed off the human aspect completely.

Now, there is no perfect format for a resume. Standard formats vary across jobs and domains. But what we need to do is to create a relevant resume that clearly highlights our current status, past experiences and our aspirations. Everything starts seeming important- what we have done before, what we are doing now and what we want to do in our next job and all we have is 2 pages. What I do is to write down everything that comes to my mind and let it go to 4 or 5 pages. Then I start thinking about what jobs do I want to apply for. I cannot position myself to be a candidate for 10 different types of jobs or roles. Spreading myself that far and thin will only result in my profile losing relevance in the market. I have to narrow it down to mostly 3. Find 2 job profiles I am aspiring to work on and keep the 3rd one as the continuation of my current or previous job as contingency plan if in case I do not get the jobs I am aspiring for. Then start searching for open vacancies corresponding to these job profiles on company websites and read through the job descriptions. This I believe is the best way to understand the expectations of companies regarding job profiles and also find relevant keywords.

The tricky and interesting part is yet to come. The challenge is to use these keywords and job descriptions to tailor our present and past experiences to make our resume a good fit for the job and worthy enough to be noticed. We are not required to list out all our experiences in our resumes. Only what is relevant for a particular job is required. Our experiences with older companies should get lesser in the number of words and more streamlined towards what we are aspiring for in our next job. For example, client engagement plays a major role in consulting gigs. So if someone is aspiring for consulting jobs and has extensive experience in client engagement through a variety of jobs, highlight client engagement and the ability to handle clients and leave out what is not relevant. This way the 4-5 page resume will get streamlined into a 2 page one. We do not have to actually worry much about all of this now. The challenge was before the time of LinkedIn. Now we can write whatever we want on our LinkedIn profiles, use it’s condensed version as our resumes and put the links to our LinkedIn profiles in our resumes. The automated resume scanning system works somewhat similarly to website SEOs. SEOs scan websites for keywords. The search ranking of the website becomes better when more keywords are detected. The resume scanning system must also be ranking resumes based on keywords so the strategy should be to show these keywords in our resumes to the scanning system.

Indian job market has always been notoriously inconsiderate to the aspirations of job seekers. An ex-colleague  in the Netherlands was completely into medical research when suddenly he developed the affinity for computers. He studied computers for a bit and eventually moved into a IT support job. It was a jaw dropping experience for me. In India, not even in my wildest dreams in a million years would this be possible. In the early years of my career, I was interviewed by someone who opted to hire me on contract. What I didn’t know was that the HR person wasn’t convinced about his decision to hire me and she had a strong intuition that I would get another offer very soon which was exactly what happened. What this translates into is that if we are not getting the jobs we are aspiring for and if we apply for jobs that do not require the academic qualifications and the experience we have, we will get rejected even if we are open to working on a lower pay. The perspective is that the job would be a stop gap arrangement for us and we will move out as soon as we get the job what we are looking for.

There are no perfect jobs so there are no perfect resumes. Stuffing up our resumes with keywords is no validator to our relevance in the job market. Candidates for senior roles are all being searched and dug out from LinkedIn now. Well written resumes and completed LinkedIn profiles shows how much time people have invested on themselves which in turn indicates how much they value their work experiences. Job search has become a maze of complex uncertainty and resumes are just one aspect of it. If a resume is being scanned for 30 or 60 seconds before a decision is made, then what we need to do is to first see if there are any lucky stars beaming at us before applying for jobs.

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Why the value of the corporate world, it’s management and education system has eroded

Being a Manager has been the most coveted designation in the corporate and industrial realms. Not so much now as designations do not match the actual role the employees play in their jobs in many cases. General Management has gone under the corporate knife and has been chopped into many pieces. There are interesting reasons why management has lost it’s sheen and why the business world has become cold and calculated.

The pyramidal structure of the corporate hierarchy has become pot-bellied through the years. The middle region of the pyramid has been burgeoning because of the exponential increase in the number of managers and manager hierarchy. I see this from a very simple and real life perspective. Consider a big farmland on which different types of cultivation is done. There is paddy, corn, apples, oranges, grapes, olives and different types of vegetables. When the farmland was set up, only a single manager was needed. But as the number of items being cultivated grew, it gradually became impossible for one person to manage it all. So now there is someone who manages paddy, one for corn, one for apples, one for oranges, etc. Up until this point, it looks feasible and relevant. But if they start having different managers for sowing and harvesting paddy or different managers for planting and growing apple trees and yet another manager for plucking apples then it slowly descends into a huge long term problem. Every company goes through corporate restructuring periodically for a variety of a reasons and this is when the biggest problem rears up it’s ugly head. With so many functionalities and managers to consider, it becomes blinding as to what roles and functions are relevant and needs to stay and what needs to be scrapped. A peep inside our history is enough for conclusive proof. The biggest empires of the past all grew beyond manageable proportions and decayed away with time simply because of management issues.

Management is an art we need to keep learning and practicing throughout our lives. The entire concept of management can be sliced into two big pieces. Self management and people management. Self management starts from the time we start walking. Now here is something interesting. Our society has migrated from a community based life to an individualistic isolated lifestyle. But the rules of raising us up hasn’t changed. We walk, we fall, we try again. We are taught the art of patience, perseverance and resilience very early in life. Our preparation on time management also starts very early when we are made to write exams from school days. Now Japanese schools do not think this is right. So there are no exams for kids till they reach the 4th grade. Till then they are not evaluated on their academic or time management skills. The focus is on building their soft skills especially their behavioral skills and making them live like in a community with other kids. There is a very important aspect to this. Kids are made to get their fundamentals in place rather than crowd their minds with numerous aspects of life and confuse them. Science says 80% of our brain development happens in the first 3 years of our lives which makes it most critical time of our nurturing. When we take all of this into account, it boils down to one thing. Good managers start early at learning management.

Then comes people management. Till the 4th grade, Japanese schools focus on developing two critical aspects of the personality of their kids : Empathy and Compassion and they have a reason for this. They follow the Clan organization culture and Democratic method of leadership. It requires a very inclusive mindset of working and decision making needs the consensus of everyone involved, no matter what their role in the organization is. But this culture is in perpetual conflict with that of the rest of the world. Empathy and compassion foster emotional intelligence in us but becomes the biggest roadblock to decision making. Take the example of policemen and lawyers. They are trained to focus only on evidence. If they grow emotional intelligence, no crime will be a crime and there will be no punishments which means there will be no law in the land. Ideally, we just need to add excellent communications skills, empathy and compassion to self management skills to become good people managers. But in the corporate world we are part of, none of these are required. Managers are expected to drive people at work like shepherds drive cattle to graze. Team members are neither expected nor encouraged to learn anything more than what they need to know to do the work assigned to them. There are also organizations where managers are used as thugs and enforcers to hire, intimidate and coerce employees to quit unwillingly which I have seen and experienced.

These are the reasons why the world of business seem so cold and hard. Empathy and compassion have no place in that realm. Banks cannot function on emotional intelligence. No loans will ever be recovered. This is why outside of Japan, kids start writing exams early. Our lives are made competitive and good scores are rewarded so that we focus solely on getting better scores to get the rewards. We are not allowed to grow emotional intelligence and our personality development is done devoid of empathy and compassion. This is why there is growing discontent and ire against the existing education system. The education system is being blamed for creating robots rather than humans that can easily fit into the corporate world. Corporate world runs only on numbers and our lives are far more complex and evolved to be measured and defined with just numbers. A growing population of people are homeschooling their kids simply because nothing much has changed in all these years. Schools are nurturing kids the same way their parents were nurtured, to grow up and fit into corporate jobs. Education no longer symbolizes learning. Older generations have had to unlearn many of the things they learned through the education system to understand the world and life around them.

Brigette Hyacinth, an influencer on LinkedIn has been creating quite a stir in the community by openly questioning the stale hiring policies in the corporate world. Resumes of candidates are being evaluated by automated systems run by software and they use keywords to connect and match resumes with job roles. This is the best example of the corporate world needing robots rather than human beings to work for them. Those keywords take precedence over talent, hard work, skills and experience which filters out people who truly deserve to get those jobs. I have been a victim of this system as well.

But all does not seem to be lost. I happened to read about how people from the corporate world in the US metropolises are quitting jobs and moving to far away places like Arizona to live in organic farm based communities. The owner of a large golf course seems to have redesigned the golf course to start an organic farm which indicates that the situation has become quite serious. On a funny note, this should have been expected as organizations have been creating cattle managers all this time and they must have grown tired of managing people who have become robots. Organizations are streamlining and making their hierarchy flatter with lesser number of managers. The growing support Brigette is receiving for her comments even from the HR community is very heartening. The wind of change seems to be blowing, slowly but surely.

Critical thinking – the worst anti-social activity

Couple of days back, I was watching Prakash Raj, a very well known Indian actor on TV expressing his views in a conclave conducted by a news channel. He was taking on every question, openly criticizing the current political scenario in India and putting the blame squarely on the shoulders of the PM and the President of the political party he belongs to. He is someone who is well entrenched and seasoned in his profession, has contacts wherever it matters and has a prosperous life, so he may have sounded arrogant to many. But then he explained why he is taking such a stand. A well known journalist and a good friend of his was murdered in cold blood last year and supporters of the ruling party were exploding crackers and distributing sweets to celebrate her killing which neither the PM nor any other party leader condemned. He just couldn’t take it and is letting out the rage that has been seething inside him.

The scourge of any establishment and what scares establishments the most is critical thinking. In one of my previous jobs a long time back, my team leader used to constantly tell the team that the work we were doing could be done by someone with just high school level knowledge. It used to feel like he was underwhelming us but he was right. We were just following set procedures and we were not required to wrack our brains to solve problems. We were not required to invent anything new. Simply put, no critical thinking was required. If we look at it closely, the entire corporate, political and religious spectrum works on the same principle. In the corporate, it’s just do the work as you are told to do, take your salary and go home. In politics, vote for one of those people who have been put before you and that’s it. In religion, read, listen and follow what’s written in religious texts.

If we look at all the greatest inventors in history, relatively very little is known about them other than about their inventions and their work. This is because the way they think is a complete mismatch to how the society works. Their behavior and lifestyle has never been considered as normal as per society standards and they were always treated as outcasts during their lifetimes. This is because critical thinking has always been the biggest enemy to the norms of society. Gautam Buddha had to renounce his kingdom and regal life because he understood that only critical thinking can make this world better. But he had to live his life outside the walls of the society. Jesus Christ tried to be a critical thinker within the society and we all know what his fate became. This is how society has always treated critical thinkers. Either keep them out and limit their sphere of influence and if that doesn’t work, eliminate them.

Religious and political establishments have realized long back that critical thinkers are their mortal enemies. When do people start doing critical thinking? When they are content with their profession, earn enough to live a prosperous life and most importantly have access to information and they fully know and understand what is going on around them and in the world. Deny all of these to people and they will struggle to manage their lives and take care of their families which will give them little time to seek out and understand what is happening in the world. First the concept of wealth was introduced, then financial institutions came along and introduced the concept of money. The Renaissance gave rise to industries and jobs and money got linked to jobs as salaries. Thus began our continuous struggle to eke out a living and seek out the elusive prosperity that always seem to be out of our reach. The establishments are also fearful of education which is why rural people in countries like India continue to have less access to schools and colleges and very little practical know how and true knowledge of the world is included in the education curriculum.

The establishments have also ensured that people who can do critical thinking are subjugated to them thereby effectively neutralizing them. A simple example of this is wealthy and distinguished people of the society flocking the establishments of God men. Once they are all brought together under one umbrella, none would dare to go against the establishment. This is also how we find plenty of well educated people being part of and supporting political parties. All of this would explain why the political establishment in India is riled and up in arms against Arvind Kejriwal and his party. He is well educated, had a prominent government job and has a pedigree in social service. That is why when he launched a political party, the entire system went into shock. When the system tried to take him down, he found a way to win elections and become a Chief Minister. What he talks about and the work he has been doing has been clearly highlighting and differentiating what elected representatives have been doing for the people for so long and what elected representatives should be doing. Solving existing problems in society is another huge setback for the establishments. If there are no problems, what is there for the leaders to highlight and talk about? They have no vision for the society and people, they are only concerned about taking care of the needs of the establishments. This problem exists in the corporate world as well.

In his bid to create new and innovative ways of governance, Arvind Kejriwal has been forced to go against the establishments and that is why all of them have ganged up against him. He has made himself a threat to their survival and existence. Similar is the case with Prakash Raj. These people have risen above all influences of the establishments and cannot be subjugated. They cannot be allowed to flourish within the realm of the society. In a Malayalam movie called Red Wine, there is a character who was a students leader in college and fights against the corporate trying to usurp tribal land. The head of the company says he belongs to the firebrand category who will not sway under any influences and can never be subjugated so he has to be eliminated.

Critical thinkers continue to be the bane of the establishments. LinkedIn has introduced a concept called Influencers. These are mostly leaders from the corporate world. Hundreds and even thousands of people follow them. People have to understand that everyone is capable of having their own views and opinions from their experiences in life and do not necessarily have to follow anyone. Until this enlightenment happens, we will all be under the slavery of the establishments and will continue living the miserable lives we have become accustomed to.

 

 

An interesting social media experiment

It was my birthday last week and a couple of days before the B-day, an idea struck me. I decided to make my birth date visible to only myself on Facebook and LinkedIn. The objective was not to find out who among my friends and contacts would remember my birthday. I did this as a social media experiment to see how many are dependent on social media to wish me. The results weren’t any surprising though.

In India, especially in my state, Kerala, under Hindu tradition there are two birthdays. One, the actual date of birth and the other, the astrological date of birth based on moon signs. In academic and professional circles, the date of birth is considered as birthday whereas in family and community circles the date that falls on the corresponding moon sign is considered as birthday. The moon sign day is considered to be auspicious so the day starts off with an early bath and visit to temples. Then there would be a sumptuous feast in the afternoon. This is how it used to be from childhood so it was a pain to go to school every year on this day. Time has moved on and there are no more such elaborate birthday celebrations especially the sumptuous feast. I prefer to spend my birthdays in peace and quiet because it is the only day in a year when I get to choose what I want to do without interference from anyone.

We can broadly categorise our contacts into friends and acquaintances. Acquaintances are the ones whom we have known for little to short periods of time. From many of our classmates in school or college to most of our colleagues to the people we meet and talk when we are travelling, all of them come under the category of acquaintances. We may or may not be in touch with them constantly and those relationships are mostly need based. We may only know some aspects of each other’s lives and we do not share our private space with each other. Friends on the other hand are just on the opposite polarity of acquaintances which is why our friends list is usually very small compared to the list of acquaintances. It is this decades or even centuries old norm that social media has stirred and shaken up completely.

Internet and social media have empowered us to connect with anyone anywhere across the globe. We can talk and even see each other across time zones through social media now. This is a dream come true for those people who have left their families behind in their own countries and gone abroad to work and it usually used to take weeks to communicate before the advent of mobile phones and social media. Mobile phones eased that difficulty considerably but it’s social media that has shrunk the distances to zero. But something subtle has also happened in the meantime. Our friends and acquaintances lists have all become muddled because everyone is a friend on social media now. We would be communicating more on social media with those people who would have been on our list of acquaintances and with the ones who are our friends, we hardly talk because, well, they are all on social media anyways.

Coming to my birthday, someone from school whom I had never spoken to during school days and became friends with after we became neighbors wished me on both days. Another school mate with whom I became friends comparatively recently wished me in the evening on my date of birth. One friend who goes back to 16 years also wished me. All of these wishes came on Whatsapp. Two friends wished me on Facebook. Another friend whose birthday falls a few days after mine wished me a day before her birthday on Facebook messenger. She had my birthday totally confused. Then there is an ex-manager from a previous job who calls me a day before my birthday because he wants to wish me before everyone else does. These are all the wishes I got. From at least 70-80 wishes on Facebook every year, it reduced to just two.

Rest everyone missed. Not anyone’s fault though. Life in society has become extremely fast paced. We are made to believe in the illusion that technology has made our lives easier but in reality it has not. There is so much to do and learn that we are all struggling to keep pace with the growth in technology. Add to it the growing financial constraints. The financial meltdown of 2008 has changed our lives forever. It is no longer about whether we have time to remember the birthdays of our dear ones. We are mentally spaced out because it has all come down to survival and desperately holding onto our status quo in society. Social media has come in and neatly fitted itself into those gaps in our lives. Facebook shows us birthdays of our friends so it is very easy to drop in a message. But how much value does it have compared to a call or a hand written note? Zero. Why? Because we never thought of them, we just reacted to an externally triggered alert. We do not have time to talk to our families in the morning because we are rushing off to work. So who has come in and taken that space? The RJs on FM channels. Everyone turns on these channels for music while we drive. The RJs smartly conduct their surveys and debates in between the songs they play and we participate wholeheartedly. The RJs are utilizing our need to talk and communicate our thoughts by directing us to certain topics and extracting our responses.

Social media has made us commodities in every sense. It is possible now to send virtual roses on dating sites to people we like. No emotions are required to connect and talk to people which is why we now have social media friends, people who are our friends on social media but whom we have never known before and may not even ever meet in person. And what is social media doing? Collecting every possible information about us and more importantly recording our behavior from every action we take. All of this data helps companies to market and sell their products and services better by dividing us as customer segments and targeting us. Matrimony websites is a great example here. Create our profiles on their websites and they do profile matching based on our preferences. Our focus has been shifted away from what we want from our partner to physical, professional, financial and astrological attributes of random people and we get to see the profiles of those people with whom our preferences and attributes match. Facebook and LinkedIn tells us whom we should connect based on our preferences and activities.

Social media is slowly culling the human touch between us. We are being made to accept that the easiest way to communicate is through social media. For long distance communication or to simply pass on a message or for casual conversation, yes. But to wish a friend in the same country or same place, I would prefer doing it on a call or even meet in person if possible. To all the peeps who have known me for a long time and who didn’t or couldn’t wish me, our relationship is way beyond all social formalities. You know and remember me for a 1000 other reasons so my birthday is no longer at the top of your memory stack which is how it has to be. Social media can only connect people at the physical level. They are trying hard with emojis but nothing can represent or become a substitute for our emotions. I am not going to give up my human conscience and let technology become my representative in exchange for doing things the easier way.

The irrelevance of social media

The world of social media is becoming a very weird place. People are getting disillusioned by being on social media but are too addicted and too far down the rabbit hole to let it go. And the result? For example, too many posts are coming out on Facebook with the intent to enlighten people about why and how we are wasting time on social media. But where are these posts popping up? On social media itself. So people have to connect to social media to know why social media is not good for them. Sounds like cutting down the same branch of the tree we are sitting on?

But all this vile is not without reason though. There is growing awareness that the new millennium generation is connected to technology and devices and not to nature and this is weakening their body immunity to diseases and eroding their physical and mental well being. But why blame them? There was no internet in my town and mobile technology was insanely expensive when I was completing my engineering course. Just 5 years down the line, I saw a good friend’s brother carrying a mobile phone to college. Adopting to new technologies is one thing but letting ourselves become enslaved to ecosystems built around new technologies with the sole intent of building business empires and collecting our personal data to be used against us and then whining about it is plain ridiculous. Desiring for an urban life with all modern amenities and comforts and then expecting our kids to grow up by playing in mud and rain is total absurdity. We are destroying the world nature has given us to build our own world of brick and mortar and jungles of trees and concrete cannot coexist.

The new generation kids are growing up in sophisticated city life where the first things they comprehend are mobile phones, laptops, tablets and high end cars. I am quite sure what would first come to their minds at the mention of the word tablet would be the computer device rather than medicine. Relationships are made and broken on social media now. Emotions are expressed through the internet and this is getting pushed to the point where people are even streaming their suicides live now. Looking up or stalking people on the internet by going through their activities on social media, be it for professional or personal reasons has become a common phenomenon now. Video resumes are increasingly becoming a requirement now. Even marriages are getting solemnized over the internet. The 5 senses with which we were created to communicate with each other have lost their relevance to technology. We have been sucked up into a virtual world where we have also become devices of sorts. These are the costs we are paying in return for our mad rush towards development and a life that is getting increasingly automated.

The objective of all social media platforms is to understand our behavior and track our actions. The massive amount of data that is getting collected can be used in a million different ways, depending on who is using it and what their purpose is. The data is being analyzed and used for sending targeted advertisements to users based on their online buying preferences, show news items based on their reading preferences and even track criminals. The possibility of data being misused can be huge. All of this is making me more wary of my presence on social media, except on LinkedIn. But there is something very significant happening on LinkedIn now that most people do not seem to comprehend. LinkedIn is a hub to create a professional network which means our network should only have people who know us directly from either our academic or professional life and who can endorse our credentials and recommend us. What LinkedIn is doing now is, based on how strong our profiles are and how active we are on LinkedIn, they are recommending us to connect to other people and vice versa, with the result that we get connection requests from total strangers. A bigger network of people does not mean it is an effective and useful network of people. Getting connected to random people can end up ruining our lives because we do not know the kind of people they might be connected to and a possible search for a criminal on social media might land us in front of the authorities even without us having any direct connection to the criminal.

We do not come across the best and most important people in our lives on social media. We always find them through our 5 senses and this is something social media can never take over. They might be our friends on social media as well but we have accepted each other the way we are and whatever we do on social media never matters to them because they know from us directly what is going on in our lives. So the status updates we keep posting on social media is for the rest of the people in our network. Broadcasting about our lives to people who are not important in our lives is just showing off about ourselves and I see no other logic in it. What is more ridiculous is, we actually spend a lot of our time reading through status updates of people who are not important in our lives. This realization has what has prompted me to reduce my foot prints on social media platforms and I use them now only to read articles that interests me, publish posts that can provide information to people in my network and air my views to build awareness on anything that affects people’s lives negatively. The life I used to have without phone, computer devices and internet seems like a fantasy now. Going off the grid is quite a fancy word for me because that’s how I started and lived for a major part of my life. Someday, I am hoping to take out all the clutter I am living with now and go back into that amazing life.

An analysis on self motivation

What excites and motivates human beings is one of the most interesting areas to explore. I have been observing and trying to comprehend human behavior for many years now and ironically, what excites and motivates human beings more than anything else is sex and porn, testimony being the physical abuse of our fellow beings through time. When I was in the Netherlands, I was told that in Amsterdam, people can pay and watch live sex being performed by a man and a woman. That was intriguing and eye opening because I realized how depraved our motivation levels can go to. My take is, we can 1) be influenced 2) be influenced and get motivated or 3) be self motivated.

How do I differentiate between the three? Getting influenced is not something that sits well with me. I see many top executives getting branded as influencers on LinkedIn. For me, getting influenced by anyone no matter how high and mighty that person can be means losing my individuality and my freedom to think clearly. Blind faith is the biggest deterrent to free thinking. I cannot let anyone’s thoughts and experiences cloud my judgement. We are all on our own journeys in our lives and I believe the Universe in itself is learning from the experiences of each being within it as it keeps evolving. We can get influenced by people and get motivated to be like them, but trying to impersonate someone or trying to create our personality from an amalgamation of many other personalities will only consume too much of our time and effort without taking us forward meaningfully. For me, getting motivated by people is to find myself or make myself better by imbibing the best from their personalities and achievements. I realized why I am hooked on to Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits when I started watching videos of their live shows on Youtube. He was thorough all the way down to each and every note they played and the focus was completely on making good music. When snazzy outfits and over the top emotions and antics on stage were in vogue in those times, none of those had any space in his world of music. I have a good laugh every time people talk of someone getting addicted to alcohol by being in the company of people who drink. Sounds to me like a girl getting into a live-in relationship with a guy and filing a case for rape against him when he refuses to marry her.

A lot has been written about motivating people at work places. My observations are very simple. There are people who prefer public sector jobs simply because their focus is not on a high pay package but on the benefits associated with government jobs and the recognition they get in the society for being government employees. To put it simply, I can put up a name board outside my house with the details of the public sector enterprise I am working for and it would be easy for anyone to find my house. But does that work in the private sector? No one would even care. The only real benefit of working in the private sector is a higher pay package. This is why so many rumblings can be heard in private sector companies during yearly appraisals because when companies dither on giving more pay, unsurprisingly, employees revolt and leave. As long as money has the stranglehold on private sector employees, they will keep getting grilled at work. This changes only when we reach a point where the motivation to work is no longer for money. What irks me most is when employees quit their jobs and companies tries to hold them back by offering more compensation under the completely absurd assumption that money can solve all issues. Showering money on disgruntled employees without comprehending what will really motivate them to stay back is the worst way to handle them.

What I truly believe in is, nobody or nothing can influence us beyond a point unless we allow them to and external factors start influencing us increasingly only when there is lack of self motivation in us. Empty spaces get created in our minds when we go through difficult times or when we lose someone or something dear to us. How we choose to fill up those spaces will define how our life will go forward from there. When life weighs us down, we invariably end up losing sight of how we reached that far in life and start looking for motivation from external sources. It is almost as if with every new problem, we just lapse into selective amnesia and forget all the tough times we have survived before. Quite a few people I have spoken to have told me that talking to me has helped them get motivated to improve themselves. I have no clue how but it could probably be because I try to be very straight and honest in everything I do and I tell people to keep looking inward and keep their focus on themselves. Introspection is the key for self development. For everything that goes wrong in one’s life, there is always some blame or a missed step from that person that has triggered the situation. So looking to lay the blame on someone else will only end up creating more negative energy in our lives. There is a neighbor near my house who has mental instability issues because he is sterile and he can be seen walking on the terrace naked. All ladies including my mom call him mentally unstable. I told her he has only issues with his focus. If he had engaged his mind in other things in life and was constantly learning, neither he nor anyone else for that matter would ever have any mental issues. The key to self motivation for me is to find those little positives from every situation in life, no matter how bad things can get. I used to curse a potentially crippling back pain I have for a long time, then I realized, this is life’s way of keeping me healthy with mandatory workouts, long walks and correct posture. These are the things I pass on to the people I talk to. I hear them out, understand where they are coming from and then put a mirror before them. All of us are constantly struggling from the time we are born and one of the biggest hurdles most of us have managed to cross is the face off with gravity to stand up and walk. People just have to open their minds and see these little things within themselves and sometimes, we all need someone to smack our heads and remind us that life keeps testing us to make us stronger and better beings.