Engineering Yourself

Engineering is the application of empirical evidence and the coming together of scientific and practical knowledge in designing/inventing/innovating new technologies. When I say Engineering Your Self, it implies the application of empirical evidences collected through scientific studies or by practical observations to understand and evolve you.

Let’s look at a smaller stratum of people, the working class and probably restrict ourselves to those involved in mental labour alone. We all work for a company and also work in company. In many ways, the nature of our work is in company of others who are diverse socially, economically, culturally and linguistically. There is a collective effort from all members in a team to successfully complete a task, a project or at an organizational level a goal or a milestone.

In this context, where are we as individuals headed to. Are we really bothered to take care of ourselves? Are we not acting in silos getting worked up, losing sleep over a deadline or fretting over negative reviews and measuring success by constant comparison with every other member in the team?

Let us, thus, delve into dealing with a couple of things that keep reverberating in the corporate life and take a thought on it that is slightly deviant from what is usually discussed.

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On Work Life Balance

It has always been fascinating for me that we need to find a balance between these two. Is there no work in life? And more seriously, no life in work? What is making us separate the two and always seek a balance? We have ended up seeking a lot of balances – work vs. life, professional vs. private life, family time vs. friends’ time, time with kids vs. time with other members. Hope we do not end up seeking a balance to balance all these balances! Seeking a balance is in many ways leading to a lot of imbalance.

 

The simplest solution to this would be to do any task that is assigned to you with unwavering commitment and complete involvement which comes with interest either inborn or acquired. We have never complained that the time we played with our friends has been more; we would have sat at the same place for hours together to get a portrait right without the knees and legs complaining. The same time, measurable in absolute terms, looks lesser when we are involved activities that we like or that we have not classified as “work” while the same looks stretched and long when we are involved in tasks that we do not like to be in. The measurement of time looks to be more relative than absolute!

The only reason we do so for work, as far as I could fathom, is because we have been taught to see work as burden and games or hobbies to be things that we ought to do out of interest.

Is it then not a simple application through this observation that if we can involve ourselves in all activities that we embark on with the same fervor and passion we would no longer need to classify them or put them in different baskets? Hence, a need to strike a balance does not arise. As an extension, we would not require a constant external driving force to get people to be involved in the work. The output from a person who works with intensely and passionately seldom goes haywire.

On Stress

The bad thing about stress is that it burns you out, makes you feel miserable and also threatens the team morale and equanimity. It has also driven people into all sorts of physical and mental illness. It has led people into substance abuse, alcoholism, binge eating and depression.

So, keep the stress out, relax and live stress free? Not in entirety.

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Stress is good to have. The good stress is the stress or minimum anxiety levels that keeps one on the job, motivates a person.

More often than not, the stress that we feel cannot be attributed to the nature of work alone but to our ways of handling, organizing and shuttling between our list of tasks and activities.

Our tasks other than those at work, those having an objective measurable goal like buying a home or a car, require a lot of research and study. There is a personal touch added to this here – you want it to happen, it is something you care for. A mistake here could cost you a bomb financially, a life time savings for many. Yet we do not find it stressful and thrive in doing them. When we do something that we care for, and our resources are expended for our own benefit we seem to be less stressed out than when we do a task in which we are not fully involved. Could we then not try to apply the same in our professional life and see it as an opportunity to thrive under? Yes, at times, having a small turnaround time or an improbable deadline does make us lose balance. But that forms a smaller part of reasons for getting stressed out.

People also get stressed out due to reviews and its outcomes. We more often than not start a presentation, incorrectly, by stating that world remembers only those who come first and not the ones who come later or that you are as good as your last quarter. In a way, it has been imbibed in us so much that many would recount the number of times a team has won a world cup and not the times a team has made it to the semi-finals. We are interested in No.1 and not even in top 4. This needless race needs to be laid to rest. Right from the formative years, it needs to be inculcated in us that the tasks we take up are not for a race but to express ourselves; different grades in the tasks should not be a reason to be judgmental.

Conclusion

In conclusion, do not categorize your activities in different baskets and seek striking a balance among them. Let there not be reasons to evaluate a task on its worthiness or what benefits it could possibly provide you. Instead, in whatever we do, and are involved in, let us involve intensely and wholeheartedly offering unwavering commitment. Let us keep aside these balances and lead a balanced life!

Author: Raghavan G , Technical Lead at CoreEL