I Am Not the Only One

A day in the COVID-19 life.

I was out of shape. And so, about 15 years ago I began my voyage of balance. Two commandments dictated my lifestyle—daily workouts and disciplined diet. My home gym welcomed me every morning at 8am. My meals became low in carbs and high in animal protein. I loved my chicken and mutton. Over time it was no longer about lean mass. My taste buds had the better of me. 

Then, on Dec. 22nd, 2019, I gave up meat. It has only been a few months. But, I know it is for good. That’s why I am documenting it in public domain. I have no temptations. Does my conviction deserve an applause? No. As many of my past convictions fizzled out. However, I know it is different this time. You see, my determination is fueled by my inner strength. It’s a dormant strength—from getting rid of a lifelong habit to holding strong in a pandemic–it’s right there in all of us, and yet, we miss it. So, let’s play detective and demystify this universal ‘source’ of strength. 

Lockdown. Day 30. My departure time to office has stayed the same, 10:15am. The arrival time has fast-forwarded. I reach before a train of thought is completed. The roads are empty. There are no signals. It’s a peaceful drive with little maneuvers around stray dogs who now own the streets. Even the journey’s end is smooth. There are no blocking crowds outside the main gates—the popular ‘chai ki tapris’ are deserted. The stress resides inside those gates, not outside. The security guards open them for me. There is no preferential treatment. Before letting me in, they point and click the temperature guns on my forehead—it’s a fascinating gadget I never knew existed! I am okayed to go. I think they smile at me, but I am unsure. Their masks are always on. I can’t recognize their familiar faces. I am in the middle of a science fiction matrix.

I_Am_Not_the_Only_One

The campus is unrecognizable too. The water fountain is dry. The reception is uninhabited with no one rushing for the first available elevator. The video screens over the elevator doors are dead. The elevator climbs non-stop to the 7th floor—no one to greet and crack jokes. I walk into my office and rub my hands with a sanitizer. The computer comes on with a flooded mailbox. I already know what’s in there. I have been through my mails in the morning. Three dreaded Ds. Discounts, Downsizings, and Defaults. Each mail requires a custom treatment. Each treatment comes with a tradeoff. Each tradeoff impacts real people–employees and customers. There is no intellectual stimulation here. The dilemma is emotionally draining. Fretting behind the desk doesn’t help. So, I walk over to the big window in my office and peep out.

It’s Indian summer. The sun is scorching. The farmlands are dry. The parking lots are vacant. There are no professionals entering or exiting the gates. It is eerie wherever my glance falls. The surrounding corporate buildings are brick and mortar, there is no life there. There are some residential complexes. I know there are lives locked up there, hiding from reality. Some of the residents may be Cybagians. They may have planned a big year—buying that first house, first car, first overseas vacation, or perhaps even tying the knot. Dreams now feel distant. Including Cybage’s. This was supposed to be our big year. Our silver jubilee. Grand celebrations were on the cards for each month with a spectacular finale planned in December. The grim realization is taxing. What to choose, individual security in the short run or business viability in the long run? It’s an unfair choice. Maybe we don’t need to choose. Maybe dreams will still come true. Maybe the uncertainty will just magically disappear. But for now, all plans need to wait. As right now, it’s meeting time.

It’s the daily stand up in the board room. My leadership team is there. They sit far from each other. The COO is the master of ceremonies. It’s a spirited discussion. I am a spectator in the background, watching them in action. Every now and then the sober discussion is punctuated by Covid19 jokes. The laughter is a blast from the past. My mind races back to the turn of the century—the days of the dot.com bust. Many of the faces today were present back then as well. Every morning we used to brainstorm together. As I silently observe their expressions, I realize how time has flown by—all of us have grown old together. Yet, we are still talking the same things of yesteryears—how to strike balance for the overall good of everyone. It’s a relaxed environment, there is chemistry, and everyone’s viewpoint matters. This is our organization’s nerve center—one would expect power games between strong personalities, but all I see is camaraderie. Occasionally, there is no consensus. They give me the respect to make the final call. Other than that, it’s their show. It’s a show of Cybage legends!

Rest of my day is spent over ‘in-person’ meetings with each account manager and department head along with their line managers. Their physical presence makes a big difference. They have an option to work from home in this pandemic. But they choose to come. They want to ensure the security of their teams, the existence of their customers, the triumph of their organization, and also their solidarity with their CEO. Each e-mail thread is discussed. Each business or delivery challenge is addressed. There are no perfect solutions. But, we try our best. By the time darkness descends, I can see the light. I am no more annoyed by the gang of dogs chasing my car. Poor creatures, they are probably hungry—forgotten victims of human greed. I will come back with my son to feed them, I scribble a mental note. The thought of Aneesh makes me smile. I am no longer stressed.

My Aneesh loves animals. So, he became a vegetarian towards the end of 2018. Such strong decisions are not easy for a 19-year old. Young ideologies often do not stand the test of time. Therefore, to encourage him on his chosen path, I made him a promise, “If you stay away from meat for a year, I will join you.” He realized he was not alone. And now his crusade has doubled up. 

I was there for my son. My team is there for me. There are believersthis realization makes us invincible. You see, it’s the conviction of others in our conviction that gives us the strength. The source of our inner strength is not insideit is outside!



Believe, Original, Style, Team

38 Comments

Hide
  1. Arun, the source of inner strength is deep inside. It’s never outside. A leader believes inside that his team will perform and a father believed that his son will succeed in his resolution.
    Though it’s a play of words around, the beauty is how one perceives the principles in adversity because principles are always in control, we’re not.

    Stay safe.

  2. As always loved reading your blog. Keep Inspiring us and keep safe 🙂

  3. Everytime I read your blog sir, everytime I feel relaxed. Though it’s not a very good time for survival but not even worst.
    Such positive words inspires a lot.
    Not to all but probably yes to me.
    Thanks for being such a wonderful CEO. I wish and hope things will be back on track soon and there would be same charisma back to CT towers

  4. Wow! I can imagine how it must be feeling. Office is always more than just a work place. But at Cybage, work is more than worship, it is more than just assignments, it is recognition that one is good at something, one always has motivation for being creative, its way of life….

    The water fountain is like an unlimited source of positive energy, it calms down both times, before getting to the desk and before returning home. I skipped a beat when I was reading it went dry, I can’t imagine campus without it!

    Anyways, soon we would get out of this and things would take some time to normalcy.

  5. Interesting and wonderful thoughts, Arun. Yes, in these tough times, one gets strength from his/her inner core as well as from the idea that we are never alone ! Such events teach us a lot for sure though !

  6. Hi Sir,

    This is so wonderfully written. Just the thing I wanted to read during these times of uncertainty. It indeed the belief which takes us through during the worst of times.
    Strength to all of us to overcome this difficult phase!

  7. Outstanding
    Very positive n inspirational
    Just what I needed to read at this point of time

  8. This is such a beautiful write up!!!
    Having a man with his heart at the right place as leader makes Cybage the company it is.
    Thanks Arun for being someone we can all look upto.
    Take care and be safe! You and your family are always in my prayers.

  9. Super Draft Arun ji!!!
    Always love to read your thoughts .
    Keep motivating
    Be safe

  10. Coincidentally, today afternoon one picture flashed infront of my eyes… We are gathered outside cafe..everyone smiling at each other … It was smile of relief…that we all are meeting again together.. the feeling was… It’s now better…discussing work, having tea….and happy to see each other…. Real family feeling..
    and now reading this beautiful article..

    Thank you Arun !
    Stay safe..

  11. Hello Sir,
    It’s so wonderfully crafted that the days as passing by giving a very raw feeling of the life going on, this has given a sense of hope to all of us.
    Seriously I am missing on lots of things in the office including my desk, my colleagues,seniors, our team parties, birthday celebrations, canteen ppl, security ppl, trainings and meeting you sometimes in the elevator. Everything.
    This has been hard on everyone but as you said the light at the end of the tunnel is what we are all looking forward to. Hope we come to office as monsoon is nearing and the views from the terrace with Chai cup in hand makes work life more beautiful.
    Hope to see everyone soon as healthy as ever, more smiling than ever and more focused than ever. Thank you for standing up for us and desperately waiting to meet all my Cybagian colleagues.
    Neeraj Wandre

  12. Eulogy virtues vs Resume virtues.
    Humanity vs organisational roles, are the words to best describe this article.

  13. Hello sir,

    Always love your writing.
    Really liked the way summed up with conviction line.
    Thanks for being our strength.

  14. Absolutely amazing sir.
    We are astonishingly lucky to have a boss like you and an organization like Cybage.Once a cybagian , always a cybagian

  15. Very inspiring & thoughtful blog. With all negativity and uncertainty around it’s always good to read through something that made joyful and enthusiastic again. Stay safe.

  16. Engaging thoughts, Arun. We have seen this in 2001, 2008 and it’s happening now. The attributes of events where different each time. Challenges come and become obstacles. Opportunities become triumphs. The one constant is the solid core which You, Leadership Team and all Cybagians have. I’m very optimistic that we all have
    strength to weather any storm and can travel great distances at speed when the seas are calm. Amen!

  17. Love your blog … the ideas that are so relevant and the language that is so beautiful. My best wishes to you – Keep Writing.

  18. Nice words Arun. Felt good to read whole blog. Keep inspiring us.

  19. Times of crises are when the best and the worst business decisions are made. It is a test of resilient yet compassionate leadership. Leadership that will be inked in history for better or for worse. And, by leadership, I don’t just mean CEOs. I mean every global citizen who has a personal choice to be myopic and selfish or to be visionary and selfless – the short-term sacrifices for the better long term that you alluded to. These choices aren’t easy; cultivating a resilient mindset comes at the price of setback. In a parallel story halfway across the world from you, I’m gearing up to graduate into a recession, or a possible depression. It feels like jumping off a cliff without a parachute. It was going to be my first time walking across the stage in graduation robes… instead I’ve had to come to terms with being the university’s bicentennial class without a commencement ceremony. In 2 days, I’ll be celebrating my birthday in isolation with a home-made cake and my family and friends on a Zoom call. I can’t come back to India to be with my family at this point even if I wanted to. I don’t have a choice. Or so I thought… The situation is not a choice, but my mindset certainly is. As I watch a world superpower straining amidst broken leadership and partisan politics, I realize that I’m not just witnessing history, but playing my part in it. One country’s mistakes can become another’s opportunity. One business leader’s wrong call can leave thousands unemployed. One individual’s strength and positivity can be a source of hope to many around. Make the right choices. Take care of yourself and your employees and stay safe!

  20. Wonderfully written, Arun! Came straight from the heart, it seemed.

  21. It is always wonderful & Inspiring to read ur blogs, Ur not only a follower of strict discipline but also a Great Visionary , quick decision maker , takes care of ur Health, family members as well as have a great concern for office associate & upliftman of poor section of Society.. In spite of Busy schedule u practice ur passion like Music etc..which is really difficult to find now a days..

  22. Well Said Arun, 9/11 changed the travel experience/etiquette …COVID19 h will now change our social Experience too… will we shake hands or our Warm Hugs…will it cease.. Time will tell, but one thing for sure… in todays connected hyper world our human considerate has only increased both in respect for every human being and be sensitive to the living beings… happy living!

  23. Hello Sir,

    Very nice blog. It’s inspiring all of us. This kind of dificult situation teaches us good lesson of management , plannning and strategyging. Thanks a lot. Keep safe.

  24. Hello Sir

    Thanks for being such a wonderful CEO. I wish and hope things will be back on track soon and there would be same charisma back to CT towers.

    Loved reading your blog. Keep Inspiring us and stay safe .

  25. Yes You are not the only one Arun. Whole world is having the same vision, belief and battle and Cybage being your heart and soul will not have a different thought at this time of crisis. Stay Safe and Strong.

  26. We too are missing Cybage…. this lockdown period has given an opportunity to us to learn many things …inner strength , importance of environment ( no pollution around so…new birds in my area.As shown on news, animals on the road and dolphins near the shore) apart from work/technical skill upgrade trying more receipe and spending quality time .Getting and working more closer with team mates and family

  27. Very well written sir, We stand united n this time will also disappear magically. We need to give time some time

  28. Such an inspiring one..

  29. Very nice blog 🙂

  30. Amazing post that inspired me a lot. Stay Safe !!

  31. I found something missing in my routine ,”commandments dictated my lifestyle” , I was awestruck once with your dance at annual bash , Hyderabad (I’m from Cybage.Hyderabad) and Now with your thought process sir .It reminds me of a character called “Parvateswar from Immortals of Meluha ” Strong and duty bounded. Thank you for your wonderful thoughts and motivation, sir.

  32. Hi Arun ,
    Thanks for sharing this.I wish and hope things will be back on track soon. Always love to read your thoughts.
    Keep Inspiring us and Stay Safe .

  33. really inspiring blog in this hard time 🙂

  34. Truly amazing way to put the hardships and the worries but handling them with an determination, belief in the teams. Great thoughts, inspiring… i will read all your blogs henceforth.

  35. Very well written Arun. Cybage’s strength is always organizational and I am sure Cybage will be easily navigating through this challenging time. Take care.

  36. Very well written, as always love this post. Stay safe

  37. Such a great article to read through in these tough times. Especially, the thought of Aneesh making you smile. Yes indeed, our children give us the inner strength to keep going in these dark times. They are the really the light at the end of the tunnel for us.

    The positivity radiating in your thoughts is an true inspirational. It really eases out the stress and anxiety within.
    Thank you Sir for such a great post.

  38. Very well put up.. thank you for this

    May the departed soul rest in peace. There wont be a single day when we will not think about the closed ones we have lost and those emotions are precious.

    Very rightly said we need move out of the fear. We should not fear but strive to live the right.
    Fear itself will never help, it is greatest terror of human mind and it knows how to play well. We need come out of it taking all right steps and live well.

Add Comment Register



Leave your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
*

Copyright 2020 | All Rights Reserved

I Am Not the Only One | Arun Nathani Blog