The Changing Constant

Que Sera Sera…

The trio screamed, jumping up & down on the king-sized bed.  It was an unearthly hour to be throwing a racket.  “Get a grip!” I chided, “What will the neighbors think?  The Aroma household has gone nuts at 2:00 am?”  My rebuke fell on deaf ears.  Instead, I got pulled in the hullabaloo.    A few awkward huddles and hugs later, the atmosphere began to mellow down.  The four of us sank back onto the bed.  As did the reality.  Time flies.  And sometimes the flying time brings strange tidings.   It was a bizarre emotion like no other I had experienced before… how often is one overwhelmed by an uplifting joy and a sinking heart at the same time?

Soft & Pretty

I was amongst the first ones to welcome her.  She was as soft and pretty as a doll can be.  My feelings were identical to that of any new Papa.  Then when baby Misha was only a few weeks old, I left for the US on an extended solicitation trip for the struggling Cybage. By the time I returned in triumph, Misha was all of five months old.   The long absence made me a complete stranger in her baby eyes.   Yet it took only a few fleeting moments for her to come giggling, burping, and cuddling into my arms.  The realization dawned rapidly—there is a higher purpose to my being than mere personal triumphs.

Ritu resumed her evening dental practice when Misha was a few months old.  We didn’t want our girl to be raised by paid help, rather be nurtured with lots of love and tender care.  So the grandparental evenings now belonged to Misha.  Their apartment was tiny, but their hearts large.  Spending time with Nana-Nani was an integral part of her babyhood, a soothing attachment that persisted through her growing years.

Then when Misha turned three, Aneesh arrived.   We had to be careful now—an older sibling shouldn’t undergo trauma because of the new arrival.   So their mother quit her job to devote herself full-time to both of them.  The apprehensions were ill-founded.  Misha made for a doting sister from the word go, passionately crazy and protective of her little brother.  To date, she firmly believes that she is Aneesh’s second mommy!

The first outside-the-family friends in her life were her chauffeuring Uncle and devoted Bua (our driver and maid respectively, who affectionately continue to hover around with the same designations).  As Misha’s stature inched ahead, her troupe of friends expanded at an accelerating pace.  Her bonds were so strong that we ended up making life-long friends with many parents of her inner circle.

Then as our girl raced into her teenage years, we realized that our academically-blessed child also has a natural flair for the performing arts.   We encouraged her to explore her innate gifts.  From debates and theatre to compering shows, from Indian classical singing and western pop to playing the synthesizer—her room became a museum of trophies and accolades.  But it was not the immense talent, rather a grounded grace that made her very popular in school amongst her classmates, seniors, juniors and teachers.  The recognition culminated with the crowning title of vice head-girl and best all-round student of St. Mary’s School in her passing-out year.

Pride & Elegance
Pride & Elegance

When Misha entered junior college, it was a year when most of her school friends parted ways.  Her focus now shifted towards bolstering relationships with the extended family, specifically all the cousins and the layers of generation around them.   A myriad of meaningful gestures defined Misha—composing a touching piano recital for her Dada who wasn’t keeping too well, a melodious song to elevate the spirits of her 3-year old niece, a dazzling dance number to pep up her cousin’s wedding, a special poem recital on her Nana’s birthday, a surprise flower decoration at her parent’s anniversary amongst several others.  And it’s in this last phase before Misha bids goodbye to her childhood that this blog has come up…

Today is March 31, 2014.  Our Misha turned ‘18’ a few hours ago.  It has been four days since we were jumping on the bed at 2:00 am.  That’s when we received the acceptance email—Misha is going to Pomona for her undergrad (In 2013, Pomona was ranked as the 2nd best college in the US by Forbes and 4th best liberal arts college by US News).   What a burst of great pride!    And a moment of heart-wrenching sadness!  How do you let go of something so beautiful after having shared such an amazing journey?
The journey we traverse while parenting a child has a stark similarity to the way a relationship unfolds between an employer and an employee.  It is imperative for a successful organization to continuously adapt and change in the way it looks and treats its employees through different stages of its evolvement.

Stage 1:  The first time when our new-born plays in our arms, the feeling resonates well with the first ray of enlightenment for an entrepreneur.  Once a new businessman has tasted the initial fruit of success, realization dawns that it is no longer only about the shareholder wealth creation; there is a standing obligation towards employees who make it all possible.

Stage 2:  When a toddler is nurtured by her grandparents (instead of outside help), we are giving her more than the materialistic comforts.  Similarly, once a start-up is past the survival phase, org growth can no longer be the sole mission.  Sure all employees appreciate financial windfalls, but that’s no substitute for the focus and time every employee expects from the management.

Stage 3:  Kindergarten tots crave for equal distribution of parental love and attention—all siblings need to be treated fairly and equally.  Likewise, as the employee count starts building en masse, an organization needs to focus on building parities. At this stage, the relative fairness between employees in terms of roles/remunerations assumes greater significance.

Stage 4:  When our primary-school kid’s world starts ballooning beyond the family, the parents should strive to become a part of her expanding world.  Analogically, once an organization has entered a rapid multiplying phase, it needs to get involved beyond the mainstream workforce—from the peripheral blue-collar workers to the families behind all the employees.

Stage 5: Pre-teens is a confusing phase in a youngster’s life; any encouragement to explore their hidden talents works as a constructive diversion.  The situation is akin to that of a large company where it is easy for an employee to get lost without encouragement.  This is the time when an organization needs to provide visible growth paths and forums beyond the core role responsibilities.

Stage 6:  The teenager presents the final molding phase of a child into a young adult.  This is the stretch where the young adult needs to learn about the responsibilities towards the extended family and society.  When an organization has entered its final mature phase, the employees become partners and should play an inclusive role of giving back to the organization and colleagues.

Afterword

I finished authoring the above blog about three days back.  Composing and then looking back over & over at this narration felt emotionally gratifying.  Misha is very important to me, as is the business world.  The satisfaction of weaving a cross-over story between these two important entities made my chest swell with pride.  

Then something startling transpired.  The swelling of my chest kept tapering after each parsing.  But the heart inside my chest kept sinking further and further!  Soon, the angel of my story is going to fly away.  So where does that leave my swelling pride after having failed to hold on?  Something seems messed up here, something has gone terribly wrong in my narration. 

The humbling realization came yesterday when I marveled at the innocent excitement in my daughter’s eyes on the eve of her big birthday.  You see, I got so busy compartmentalizing life vs. business lessons that I ended up corrupting the very soul of the above story to suit my plot!  This fairytale should never have been texted from the experienced pen of a CEO, rather pictured from the innocent eyes of a child… 

When Mishu arrived in this world, her life had undergone a massive change—the concept of “life” itself was new to her!  Yet she came cuddling into a stranger’s arms.  Then as the years rolled by, the recipients of her affection kept expanding from her mom and dad to her grandparents, brother, driver, maid, friends, teachers, junior, seniors, cousins, niece/nephews, uncle/aunts, and so on…   Her life kept undergoing rapid disruptive changes, but she continued to stay the same.  She LOVED everyone who crossed her path, there was no discrimination in her approach—it was always a pure emotion of selfless love! 

No organization should customize its behavioral style towards employees because of changing times.  For the times change, the bonds shouldn’t.  All the ‘six’ ingredients governing an employer’s relationship towards its employees need to be nurtured in parallel… be it the obligation, focus, fairness, involvement, encouragement, or partnership!  An organization shouldn’t waste a life-time before realizing that an individual is BIGGER than its brick & mortar identity—big enough that if and when the time comes, it should be prepared to step aside and let the person fly free. 

Of course, it’s not easy for an organization to shed that ego and let it go.  It’s incredibly hard to let go of someone who once giggled, burped, and cuddled in your arms…



Love, Original, Purpose, Style

21 Comments

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  1. So beautifully written Arun….had me smiling all the way. You are a good father and a good leader. God Bless and keep on writing.

  2. You have penned your thoughts so beautifully. …just loved what you have written.
    Here is wishing Misha a very happy bday and successful life ahead…
    And last I must credit the parents for giving her such a wonderful upbringing. ..
    Wishing her all the success. ..
    Regards,
    Brinda.

  3. I hope she has a wonderful stint at Pomona and makes you even prouder when she comes back !

  4. A brilliantly written article . So from the heart…….and brought tears to my eyes….

  5. Happy Birthday Misha and all the best

  6. Such a lovely article

  7. Arun, very exquisitely penned your thoughts into words. The reader could actually feel the emotions intended to convey.
    Wishing little Misha all the very best for her great future.

  8. Beautifully articulated!!! A journey of emotions and feelings ….as a father…as a dedicated entrepreneur, as a strong supporter, and as a perfect guide. At the same time, Ritu’s commitment towards family (by leaving her profession)…was astonishing. Family values are always first!!

    My sincere wishes to Misha for her new journey. All the best!!!!

  9. awesomely wriiten sir, especially the father-daughter relation is beautifully put up in words!
    Best wishes for all her future endeavours.

  10. Very beautifully written as always and very well explained Sir.
    Wishing Misha belated happy birthday and all the best for the future endeavors.
    I Love to read your articles and wait for the new once eagerly.

  11. What a beautiful article Arun, I am sure Misha will be very happy and proud to read this blog, wishing her good luck and the best in life.

  12. Beautifully expressed your feelings.. All the best to Misha and have a successful career ahead.

  13. Best wishes to MIsha for her new journey !! Very nice way of expressing your feelings.
    You have an excellent imagination power which is expressed in all of your blogs.

  14. Beautifully written, as always! One thing I never miss and actually look forward to is your blog.
    Cheers.

  15. Been waiting to write over this but did not find the time and certainly this blog is more in two parts – first half is from an ideal environment that any CEO thinks to share with his/her employees and second part of this blog is more from the heart and emotion of a father which is something I admired in this blog the most. I congratulate Misha for her achievement and my best wishes for the future. 🙂

    Coming back to first part now..
    If SDLC is the process that each project in a software organization follows then six phases described is what should be followed by any organization in Ideal scenario as these are quantified in terms of data in some way or other. I write to say ideal here because when an organization grows where there is a distance between top management and root level employee, these phases unfortunately become blur.

    Stage 3 and Stage 4 (A = Stage 3+4) are pretty much something which go hand in hand and same goes for Stage 5 and Stage 6 (C=Stage 5+6) if the employee is an overall performer. Somewhere in the middle there is a Stage B in between which has following traits:-
    a) Employee feels stuck
    b) Growth is in the organization/projects but not a growth which satisfies the employee (can be any – Monetary/Skills/Motivation, etc..)
    c) How to handle baggage of emotions for many due to peers, family, responsibilities, etc.

    I guess its like a flowchart when I think to it, somewhere in the middle a person fights the war (Decision making point) to stick by or give up and search with hope to find something new.

    A modern age organization should look forward to addressing these because its not about organization growth anymore, its bottom up approach now.. If an employee grows and sticks by.. organization is bound to grow with the fruits of success and satisfaction.

  16. Arun ,that was a beautiful elucidation .. of two inseparable aspects of your life.. May God bless Misha in all that she endeavours to do.

  17. Arun, I have read many of your blogs and I am a fan of your writing. But this blog definitely is one of my favorites :)! Very well written! I completely empathize with your feelings. We all will have to go through the heart sinking moment some day. The biggest reassurance is that hopefully we did a good job raising our kids and without a doubt, you and Ritu have. Although this far away, I have seen Misha since birth and watched her grow in to a beautiful and caring young girl. Misha will be fine in LA, she is only 30 minutes away by flight from me :). God Bless!
    Love, Deepali

  18. Nice read… shows you dont need much of words to express felling which are close to heart… putiing all that in one blog, and then relating it to the bussiness world, impressive…

    Best wishes for Misha.

  19. A beautiful article and my first read honestly on how a Businesmen feels. You have done a beautiful correlation between you beloved daugther and your Organization. i can see it is straight from heart and i read every word of it. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Title said it all. It grabbed my full attention and rest of it was just anticipation. your expression was joyride.

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The Changing Constant | Arun Nathani Blog