It was late evening in the last week of June 2010. I had said my formal good byes to all my colleagues in HP – a company that I had passionately worked for, nearly a decade. All that was left now, was to collect my stuff and walk away forever. The moment seemed surreal, all of a sudden. The memories of a decade, all came rushing back in an instant – and I suddenly felt very weak-kneed. Just then, I felt an arm around my shoulders, “How are you my friend?”. It was my friend and colleague, RamG Vallath. It seems rather melodramatic now, but at that instant, as I tried to speak – the words choked up in my throat and despite myself, my eyes welled up with tears! I quickly hustled to the washroom – to give myself a couple of moments to get over those emotions.
When I got back to my desk – there was RamG, patiently waiting still. We chatted for a while, before I finally got up and walked out of that ninth floor. That for me has always been RamG – a bulwark of support, the epitome of positivity, the guy with the broadest smile on the floor – always, with no exceptions. So, no surprise then, that when I heard about a book written by him, I picked it up immediately.
Lest it looks like I am trying to shamelessly promote the book of a friend, let me say this first, the book has quite an unimpressive cover – not the kind that jumps at you from a book stall and shouts out, “Pick me up….NOW!!!”
But it’s not for nothing that the wise people of yore have advised us, “Never judge a book by its cover!”
I picked up the book on a Sunday evening – and if “unputdownable” is an English word, that’s how I would describe it in one word. It had me chuckling at bits, choking up at others – a roller coaster of a read, where one arrives at the end, vicariously having lived the life of the author – and wiser for it.
Here are two nuggets that stuck with me:
1) Like Forrest Gump had said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get”
“Happily ever after” was perhaps the most misleading phrase ever created. It almost seems to suggest a day in our lives, when we step into paradise – a proverbial land of milk and honey, with no bills, diabetes or worries tagging along. Perennially in anticipation of the “promised land”, it is much later in the journey that some of us stumble upon the truth that hey! It’s not what we got, but what we do with what we got that matters. The journey is the destination!
Reading through the roller-coaster life story of RamG, if there were times when he were to slip into a, “Oh-This-is-so-unfair” mode – we would have perhaps called it human. Afterall, being hired for a role only to later be told the role no longer exists – or being asked to quit, after helping clean up that very system – or being diagnosed with CIDP at the top of your game, all fit in elegantly into the description of that common word, “unfair”.
RamG tells us, in his own humorous way – when shit happens, (and it will) don’t go moaning. Just handle it.
2) Florence Nightingale put it nicely: “I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took an excuse”
How often have you heard people say, “I want to, but can’t because….” Or “I could not because….” There are always a million reasons not to be able to do something – but perhaps just one commitment to do something. And that’s a very personal commitment to one’s own self. We live in a world where excuses are so much a norm, that when we come across individuals who do things, stick to commitments and in general, live life “in spite of” or “regardless of”, they stand out tall in stature.
Reading the story of RamG attending the meetings on time, inspite of his health conditions, inspite of missing his breakfast, inspite of his struggle to simply wear a shirt – is a lesson in being committed. The story of how he has made a remarkable comeback is an inspiration by itself. Here is a “Before-After” snapshot that I borrowed from his blog, that I hope will inspire you to pick up his book today.