An Alternative Approach to Work … & Life !

‘  ‘ It’s not my job ‘ , is a very popularly heard phrase in the Corporate World – which is the flip side of an otherwise very useful tool called – Job Description ( JD ) . JD helps one more clarity on his / her role responsibility & what is expected from the role . Unfortunately most use JD to have clarity on what is not listed therein, to claim as ‘ This is not my Job ‘

While above remains as the time tested , evergreen , conventional work approach , idea here is to present an alternative work ( & hence Life ) approach , for those , who it can help
This alternative approach which I discovered & am following since , works around asking 3 questions in succession , when you see anything around ( work , item , aspect , emotion , person … just about anything ) :

o Does this ( work ) need to be done ? .. if the answer is ‘Yes ‘ , go to the second question
o Can I do it ? (vis-à-vis your ability to do it ), if the answer is ‘Yes ‘ , go to next question
o Will I do it ? ( to do with your willingness & time availability )

If the answer to the 3rd / last question is ‘ Yes ‘ , just do it , regardless of your JD … doesn’t matter whose job it is

Let me explain to you with an example . You have a part time housemaid who comes everyday to wash used utensils . She is absent from last 2 days , without notice , as a result utensils to be cleaned have piled up in your kitchen sink & you are feeling short of utensils for cooking . You have two choices … wait until the day your maid shows up or get an alternative arrangement for cleaning , including yourself cleaning . Now try using my alternative work approach , ask 3 successive questions :

o Does this ( work ) need to be done ? Your answer is likely to be ‘ Yes ‘ -Go to next question
o Can I do it ? , Not being a skilled job , your answer is ‘Yes ‘ , go to next question
o Will I do it ? – Decide based on your time & mental comfort … may be you will say ‘Yes’

In reality , you would have acted much earlier than 2 days … you would understand that these 3 questions would have crossed your subconscious mind & answered in affirmative , even before you realized . This is how we work in our personal life … unfortunately when it comes to our work , we become Maids & think it is someone else’s job !

You just need to be careful while answering the 3rd question …. It is not just a matter of your time ( availability ) , but your will / your mental comfort . If you feel by doing that job ( which was not “ Your Job “ , you feel angry or you feel you are doing a favour or you feel it is a big sacrifice … & hence feel burdened , it is not worth you undertaking that task , because it is going to stress you – If you don’t have the ‘ will ‘ to do it , don’t do it . Say yes to the 3rd question only if you are free of any psychological encumbrances

I have always said that it will not be the Talent deficit , but Perspective deficit which will prove decisive difference between an Outstanding & an Ordinary, in the race at high performance end ; because “ What you do is a function of how you see “ . Conventional ( JD bound ) approach defines a Maid & the new ( JD led , but not restrictive ) approach is what Mothers choose

I am sharing this unconventional approach not to propagate its use — finally you should have your own will ! – but just to make you aware that there does exist an alternative approach beyond the conventional route ( not my job ) you know , so that you can , if you choose to use it .The paths for the two approaches are different & I can tell you that if you are the person with a burning career ambition , this new approach is for you .

If you ask me whether this approach by one will lead to his/ her exploitation . My answer is No ! , since you have a choice of saying ‘ No ‘ to the 3rd question … but if you do not feel burdened in answering Q 3 , exploitation or not … please say YES . Now imagine if we can have more & more of us taking this alternative approach , how grossly different World we will make !

What is true for Work is also true for Life & vice versa … These 3 questions – which I learnt from my Mother’s & Wife’s behavior , will help you at any stage in life !

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“ Aukaat “ Apani – Apani

  • The (Hindi) word ‘Aukaat ‘is a very useful word – though currently much maligned, due its usage in a derogatory way.
    • Many use it specifically to ‘ remind ‘ some one of his / her low standing , to denigrate , to humiliate – to express self , relative hierarchical superiority
  • To me, whatever ‘meaning ‘– is what we attach to a word. Words by themselves are only neutral carriers – we load a meaning on them ; hence a word per say is neither good or bad , it’s only an obedient tool to express what the master wants to
  • Aukaat, actually is a very beautiful concept. To me , it is indicative of a ‘ Boundary ‘ … boundary in itself being neither good nor bad , it just defines the ‘ expanse ‘ & where it ends
  • In life , to progress ; it is not much about what you don’t have it is more about we knowing what we have , how much does it stretch & consequentially therefore , where does it end – exactly like little kingdoms we had earlier , each having its boundary ( Nations being little kjngdoms of today ) or ‘ territory ‘ of an animal in a jungle !
    • For Peace & Progress, size was not as important as to know the boundary, so that there is at least no intentional encroachment into someone else’s territory. Within each’s own / independent territory each had enormous scope to create own ‘Heavens ‘….. Didn’t people in Singapore transformed, what was a small marshy land?
  • The same is true for an individual, to know ‘what is there ‘& ‘where it ends ‘. To excel in life it is not about what you don’t have which is a barrier , but not knowing about it – which leads to misadventure & hence a disaster
  • In fact it is my conviction that only when you (or only those who) know your ‘play area ‘ & where it ends, is when you really excel. Those who lack this knowledge ( actual word – ‘ Awareness ‘ ) remain directionless , dabble in many things , often clueless ( like playing Darts in the dark with eyes closed ) and end up at much suboptimal levels , topped up with frustration — not because they lacked in ability , but because they did not know about their abilities & their limitations
  • That is where I come back to the beautiful concept of “ Aukaat “ , which makes us aware of out\r boundaries / our limitations , so that we can play, within our play area maximizing on our strengths and thereby excel in whatever we do
  • There are examples & examples of successful application of this concept – both Positive & Negative
    • Sachin Tendulkar is a Glorious example of excelling in his strength area & not venturing beyond that boundary – it was wise for him to give up Captaincy to focus on & excel in Batting – Hundred 100s .
    • On the other hand there is an example in Ramayana & Mahabharat of crossing Boundary & failing … Seeta Maiya crossed the boundary Lakshman drew for her ( Lakshman Rekha ) …. She would have been invincible by playing from within that boundary
    • Abhimanyu — glorious example of valour , knew how to get into a Chakravyuh , did not know of how to get out – got killed ‘ crossing the line ‘
  • In sum therefore, I have grown fond of & convinced about the Power of the concept of “Aukaat “…. It is a beautiful, potent word / concept.
  • So I would encourage you to , instead of reminding someone else of his / her aukaat , it is more productive to get to know your own aukaat , because I am convinced that , only then you have a greater opportunity to excel , by playing within own aukaat . I have started practicing this.
  • For those , still skeptical about ‘ playing within aukaat ‘ , let me hasten to clarify the trade off , between the Short term & Long term in pursuit of excellence is that : In the short term , best shot at excellence is playing within the boundary ; while simultaneously working on stretching boundaries for long term excellence

TRADER OR BUSINESS OUTLOOK

I found that approaches / outlook different people hold for work or even life can be categorized into two distinct buckets : Trader mentality or  Businessman mentality . The way I am using this terminology here ; the words : Trader , Businessman , do not denote actual professions they represent , but to describe ‘ mentality ‘ or ‘ approach ‘ with different people

Since I believe ; ‘ What you do ‘ is a function of ‘ How you see ‘ ; people with these two mentalities have two distinct , different pattern of behavior , let’s see how

  • Revenue / money drive :
    • TRADER : is focused on how much money he is making … not necessarily from where it is coming or if this has any consistent direction . He should be happy , as long as xx number of transaction giving yyy revenue is clocked every day . As a result , a Trader may not develop or may not be known for any skill ( e.g. a Fruit seller , but not as Mango Expert or Orange expert ) As a generalist , trader will neither command a Brand , nor a premium – will be moneyed , but he is faceless to his customers & customers are faceless to him
    • BUSINESSMAN : is focused on a ‘ Line of Business ‘ … has a sense of purpose & direction & getting deeper into it , will eventually develop that skill in the desired field & will be known for his expertise . Premium comes from being a specialist
  • Transactional :
    • TRADER : As long as he is meeting the revenue target it does not matter if the same source / customer is coming again & again . It could be a completely different set of customers every day , as long as the revenue output is met . Way of dealing is transactional
    • BUSINESSMAN : Repeat sales is very important for the Businessman . It is important for him to have many of same customers to come again & again . Way of dealing is transactional
  • Profit outlook :
    • TRADER : Has to maximize profit in EVERY transaction …. Since business for him is a Sum of individual transactions . That is why a ‘ Trader ‘ says ; “ Goods once sold will not be taken back “
    • BUSINESSMAN : Optimises profit for the business over a period ; not for each transaction , every day . Hence a businessman may not mind taking one step back to go two steps forward
  • Focus :
    • TRADER : Focus is clearly on self . Likely to be rude / arrogant & ego driven
    • BUSINESSMAN : Focus is customer . Likely to be polite , accommodative,not  ego driven
  •  Now if you understand the two approaches clearly , just think : not just in business / work ; but also in our personal life , don’t we see people using these two different approaches in handling people & relationships