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26 April 2012

What is your perspective on life?

The events that I am about to narrate happened about 12 years ago in the year 2000.
After working for about 11 years in a utility / manufacturing company as a mechanical engineer, I had moved to Bangalore as a Faculty in a local MBA Institute teaching Operations and Finance to a group of prospective MBA students. 
During those days, Bangalore was striving to become the IT Capital of the world. All those famous IT companies had their presence in Bangalore. We had the Infys, the Wipros, the TCSs of the world littered around 100s of wannabe IT companies small, medium and big. For those who know their stuff, Bangalore was bubbling with opportunity. It had a thriving IT community that was struggling to meet the ever increasing demand for talented knowledge workers... 
When I came to Bangalore, I hardly had any experience in IT. I was scared of logging on to the 'Windows95', which was the OS at that time and then later on to 'Windows NT' which was the nextgen OS.
However, since the opportunities were in the area of computers, I joined a training program on Oracle.
This program was designed by Oracle Education and was delivered through Oracle Training Partners. There was a partner named 'System Logic' near our office and I joined the program.
The program was not cheap by any means. It was a 6 months program which trains you in Oracle Database, Oracle Web Application Server and Java. The program was held from 6.30 PM to 9.00 PM every weekday. So I had to finish my days work and go for this program.
It was tough.
This story is not about my struggles. Like I mentioned in the title, it details your (or of mine or of anyone) perspective of life.
One of the attendees in this program was a guy named Prasad. He was about 3 years junior to me and was working in a company about 30 miles away from the class. Every day he used to take the office bus, travel about 30 miles to attend the program. 
Since he was also working in a manufacturing company and was also a mechanical engineer and finally very close to my age, we became close during this program.
The program was very demanding, but Prasad stuck to it like a true champion.
We soldiered on for about 4-5 months and we were coming to the end of the training sessions.
Our co-ordinator asked us to prepare our CVs. All of us were focussed on CV preparation and sending the same to companies. There was excitement in the air as most of our CVs were getting rejected and we were modifying our CVs and targeting different companies (or different people in the same company).
All thru this I found Prasad aloof. He was not interested in preparing his CV and he was not much bothered about changing companies.
I knew that he was not happy about his present situation. That was why he was attending the program in the first place. He wanted a change. He needed a change.
"Why are you not preparing your CV and applying for companies like the rest of us?" I asked him one day while we were sipping our tea.
He didn't answer. I pressed the question.
"Look Ram", he finally responded, "I think I am too old to learn anything new. I think at my age I cannot learn anything."
Was he kidding? I was three years older to him and was optimistically trying to get into new opportunities. And here he was, deciding that he was old, and closing out any new opportunities that could come his way.
I left it there. I went on, got into IT and got into an exciting area of ERP consulting. After about 6 years, I got an opportunity to implement ERP systems in a nearby manufacturing company. 
One of those days, I got into the company bus and I could feel that someone was staring at me. I looked around and found Prasad looking at me. 
I said hello with the same enthusiasm that I used to greet him, but Prasad had somehow changed. 
He looked lost, down and depressed. The 6 years of growing old without looking for new opportunity had tired him. He looked worn out.
At the prime age when your productivity was supposed to go up, Prasad decided that he has grown old and stopped learning, changing and adapting. That was his perspective of life.
People, our life is like a tree. The moment it stops growing it starts decaying. For us the growth comes thru learning new things and trying out new experiences. Stopping your growth through the idea that you have grown older will lead to only one outcome. 
You will grow older, quicker. 
What is your perspective of life? Are you a learner and one who grows, or have you stopped learning and has started decaying?

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