Thursday, November 1, 2012

The risk of being a cubicle rat

I often meet people who proudly claim that they are so busy that they don’t even have time to pause to take a deep breath!! More often than not, it is work which keeps them busy. I have noticed when people brag about the packed schedule of their work life, there is that sense of accomplishment in their voices. It is interesting to see guys [including me at times] treat late nights and working over weekends as beautiful feathers in their caps. It is almost like the workplace is our kingdom and we are the undisputed kings therein!!

A question which struck me is – does this kingdom offer enough space and opportunities for us to grow as a person and be the best human being we can be? This place definitely is integral in shaping our personalities and offers some great opportunities for learning, but the question still remains - is this enough?

If there are 2 individuals – one who is happily confined to the little cubicle kingdom vs. one who also explores the world outside this kingdom, how would these guys fare against each other in the long run? Who would have led a more fulfilling life? Who would have richer memories to store and most importantly, who would have at least few stories to share with their grandchildren!! Am sure most of us would agree that it is the second guy who is going to win hands down in the long run. At this point, no surprise if you are thinking that to express such an obvious thought, a blog is an overkill!!

Finding answers to the above obvious questions is the beginning of the problem, the tougher questions are - how do we venture out of our small kingdoms? Where do we start and when do we end? How do we split our time and energy between our tiny kingdoms and the world beyond? How to validate if we are making progress in this effort?

In fact, I have more questions than answers. But, one thing which I am convinced about is that answers to most of these questions lie in finding our interests beyond work and pursuing them. Am sure all of us have one or more things which we are naturally inclined to and interested in. It could be travel, photography, fine arts, sports, technology, reading- the list is endless. Identifying and pursuing these interests of ours is possibly one of the best means to expand the size of our kingdoms and the breadth of our vision. It is through these activities that we would be able to explore ourselves better and understand the stuff that we are actually made up of. For me personally, spending time beyond the comfort of my tiny cubicle kingdom has been a great tool in exploring the multiple shades of life and meeting interesting people [read non engineers:)] and the journey is still on. Of course, there is always a chance that the experience we gain through few of these activities might not be as enriching as we expected it to be. But, this risk is much smaller compared to the risk of not pursuing any.

An apt quote here would be “We think too small, like the frog at the bottom of the well. He thinks the sky is only as big as the top of the well. If he surfaced, he would have an entirely different view.” – Mao Tse-Tung. If we don’t venture beyond our tiny wells, we might very well end up as the frog.