Friday, May 09, 2008

My Path

Evgeny Onegin: Can't you see where this leads? A declaration, a kiss, a wedding, family, obligation, boredom, adultery.

- from the 1999 movie Onegin, directed by Martha Fiennes
I'm single and intend to remain so for the foreseable future. Some may think that I'm a bit cynical in my attitude towards love and marriage. Some even say, I'm selfish.

Let others think what they like. I've always believed that we all have an obbligation to find our own path towards Truth and Understanding. For some, it is the path of marriage (and possibly divorce). That is the course that they have to attend to graduate from the School of Life. For some, it is the path of monkhood.

I'm neither a householder nor a monk. I'm just a fellow explorer, trying to learn and understand as much as I can about life and our place in the larger scheme of things. That to me, is the whole purpose of existence. The rest are just coursework and exercises that you choose, based on their suitability to your temperament and nature, to help you progress towards this goal.

The path of marriage is a good path. Because it has a challenging mix of pain and pleasure. And there are useful lessons to be learnt from both types of experiences. At the end of the journey, your soul advances.

To become a monk is to become a spiritual athlete. You are a professional. You live in a controlled lab environment where special experiments and trainings are performed to slowly perfect the mind and soul.

I'm not a worldly person. The everyday cares of marriage and family bores me. I'm also not fond of organized religions. Hence I'm not eager to become a spiritual athlete in any of the traditional orders.

I've chosen a path, which is kind of like a kind of spiritual humanism. I'm a student of all the spiritual traditions in the world. I believe in tackling issues the rational and scientific way, with a liberal application of Occam's Razor.

Nothing delights me more than understanding. I seek to understand. Understanding gives me a high. Life is but a quest for greater understanding. To read and to converse with people is to seek understanding. The more I understand, the more compassion and love I feel for the world around me.

I enjoy life because the pleasures that are crave for are easily attainable. I don't need a lot of money to enjoy life. Books, art, knowledge and Nature itself--these are my playthings and objects of my lust.

A lifetime is finite. The challenge is to make every moment and every experience in life count. Every moment and every word that I type brings me insight and clarity.

And I shall end this blog entry, with the satisfaction of knowing that I'm a better person than who I was when typed the first line:

"I'm single and I intend to remain so for the foreseable future..."

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A Good Worker

Many employers complain about the difficulty of finding good workers these days. We produce a lot of graduates every year but how many of them are of good quality?

What then is a good quality worker?

As an employer, this is what I'd normally look for:

1. Willingness to learn
I don't expect a new hire to be immediately productive on day one, especially if he or she is a fresh graduate. But if the candidate shows a passion for work and a great desire to learn, then half the battle is already won. Anyone with average intelligence is capable of learning anything if they put their hearts and minds to it. All one needs to do is to sit down, focus, analyze and start taking small steps. What disappoints me most is an employee who has now desire to improve himself.

2. Takes the initiative
There are employees who will just deliver the bare minimum of what they are told to do. That's fine if your job merely involves sweeping the floor or washing the dishes. What employers expect from an executive is not just execution of tasks (because that is a given) but also the ability to think beyond that: Is this the best way of approaching the problem? What are the possible outcomes? What could be better ways of doing it? Have we taken every fact into consideration in making this decision? What are the possible pitfalls? In other words, use your brain and not merely act like automatons.

3. Takes responsibility
This may seem obvious but a truly responsible worker not only takes full ownership of the task assigned to him but he is also cognizant of the fact that his work does not exist in isolation. He is part of a bigger picture: to be responsible means that you care how your work affects the whole. Executives are not merely assembly stations on a factory production line. Most of the time they have to work as a team, and they are are expected to be flexible and proactive enough to take whatever steps that are necessary, sometimes even beyond their scope of duty, to ensure the entire team or company delivers the end product.

4. Strives for Quality
A good employee takes pride in delivering good quality work. I've always believed that the only way to guarantee quality is to over-exceed it. An employee is expected to constantly better himself. No task is ever routine. If you have been doing something well in the past, doesn't mean there's no room for improvement. In a way, work is never ever done, because there's always a better way of doing it.

If you adhere to the principles mentioned, then you, as the worker gains the most. It is not only the pay, promotion or recognition accorded to you by your employer but more importantly, you gain skills and experience that will stand you in good stead for the future. No one can take that away from you. Your value in the marketplace increases and you gain a good reputation in the industry. That to me is more valuable than anything else.