Success is about purpose and meaning

Since last few years, I have been doing a lot of work to understand human behavior. This is a quest, where a lot of people have been working for years to only get partial success. This quest took me to places and took me to one of the most interesting subjects of ‘Positive Psychology’. It is understood that most of the psychology work done by researchers have been only to counter negative part of human behavior. Much less have been done by researchers on the positive aspect of psychology. Few of the researchers who have done a great work in this field include Dr. Tal Ben Shahar whose videos motivated me to take a deeper dive into the positive aspect of human behavior to find the solutions of issues that I face every day in my work.

purpose of your life

purpose of your life

For a moment, I would take you to a battlefield. Soldiers, who are not so well paid and their officer too, whose salary is nowhere in line with someone sitting in corporate world have much more challenge to work upon under hostile conditions without caring about their lives. I spoke to several serving and retired military officers and none of them ever spoke about any situation where the soldiers ever asked for a salary raise or promotion before going to battle field or even coming back from there. This was inspite of the fact that most of them fought without caring about their lives. I met few soldiers in Paraplegic Rehabilitation center who have been put on a wheel chair for the rest of their lives, but never I heard from any one of them about how bad their commander or unit was. On the contrary, they all take deep pride in their past all the time.

Now let us move back to corporate world. I am one from this world where high salaries and job switching is very common. Surveys taken by Great Places to Work continue to show that a large section of employees are not happy for some or the other reason and do not take pride in what they do and have low opinion about their companies.

How can this be possible that poorly paid soldiers working under severe hostile situations are not demanding and take high pride in what they do, while the corporate world executives get far more money and benefits, but fare poorly in terms of taking pride and feeling loyal to their companies and managers.

While there are many reasons to such a phenomenon, I would like to put one major aspect of this behavior change. “Purpose & Meaning”.

Almost every soldier who fought and won, all the time spoke about the target they had to capture, enemy they had to kill and battles they had to win. They were clear about their mission and they lived and died with a purpose and clarity of meaning as to why they are doing where they were doing. Before they embarked upon their mission, their commanders ensured that their team were fully appraised of their mission, purpose and instilled with the sense of pride about their unit, the Army and their country. On the contrary, most of the corporate executives I spoke to, such a sense of meaning and purpose was either missing or not aligned to the goals of their company. While some executives were clear about their own goals and found solace that the time being spend in their current companies is helping them to learn new skills that can get them better jobs, most of them were just fighting with day to day small time mental blocks of salary increase and promotions they thought they deserve.

Over last few years, I spoke to so many people and almost in all cases saw a clear difference in the people who had a clear purpose of their job/ mission and meaning of their life were far better productive and happy than those who did not have such a clarity.

It is high time for everyone to understand this difference between failure and success and try to set their purpose in their fork and meaning of their lives. It is for sure going to help them become happier and productive.

Alok Kumar

Alok Kumar is Managing Partner of SRKay Consulting group, a private equity company, nurturing innovative ventures. Alok also serves on the board of ICCL (Indian Clearing Corporation Limited - A subsidiary of BSE- Bombay Stock Exchange) as an external advisor for technology and information security. Prior to this, Alok had been Managing Director of Sears IT & Management Services India Private Limited (SHI) since its inception in December 2009 and served in the same position till very recently. Having been in senior IT management positions in Fortune 500 companies, Alok has won several national and international awards. Alok is instrumental in planning and setting up SHI and thereafter growing it to a multi-locational thousand-plus people organization. Over the last five years, with his strategic vision, Alok helped SHI grow roots in India, develop and support technology applications and infrastructure across core mainframe, cutting edge e-Commerce and big data technologies. With his unique people-oriented transformational leadership style, Alok turned SHI into one of the most valued investments of Sears, garnering great ROIs, and creating value much beyond cost arbitrage. Under his tutelage, SHI has filed two patents and is recognized widely for its best practices in various areas, the latter, currently featured in Indian Institute of Management (IIM) case studies. SHI also became a CMMI Level 3, PCMM Level 3, and ISO 20000 certified organization. Alok is a widely acclaimed corporate leader in India today. He regularly participates and leads various forums as a keynote speaker and is an author of several books in different genres. Alok has several awards to his credit. He is particularly known in the industry for his people management skills and innovative ideas in improving the productivity of employees through unique people practices. He has been credited with the following industry awards: ¬ Emerging Leader of the Year award 2013 by ¬ Game Changer CEO of the Year 2013 (SHRM) ¬ CIO 100 - The Bold CIOs - 2008 (Reliance Infosolutions) ¬ CIO - Ones to Watch Award 2008 (Reliance Industries) ¬ Extended Manager Award - CIOL 2004 (Tata Teleservices) As an able leader of SHI, Alok got SHI recognized widely in the industry with the following several awards: ¬ CII Award for HR Best Practices in 2014 ¬ Global Excellence in Outsourcing Award - AIOP (Phoenix 2013) ¬ IT Innovation Award (Design & Engineering) - Computer Society of India 2012 ¬ Golden Company of the Year - Economic Times 2011-12 ¬ 7th Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Mumbai, India) 2013: • ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ Award • ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with business • HR Leadership Award • Talent Management Award by Bloomberg TV India ¬ Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Singapore, Asia) 2013: • 7th rank in ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ award • Award for ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with the business • HR Leadership Award Other recognitions: Alok had served on the distinguished panel of NASSCOM's GIC (Global In-house Centers) National Council members. The council members play a key role in major initiatives of the industry and include the torch bearers of IT industry as panel members. Books and Papers: Alok is an established author, with three books to his credit. Alok’s third and latest book, a novel, “The Spy from Unaula” is a 2015 publication. A handwriting analysis enthusiast, Alok collaborated with his wife Nandani on the book, “Handwriting Speaks” in 2006. “Value Sourcing – Future of IT Outsourcing” was co-authored with Keith Sherwell (currently CIO, Altice USA) and was released in 2013. Alok also researched and published two whitepapers: a. “Creating next generation captives” talks about the best practices that are helping generate higher value from the IT company captives.

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1 Response

  1. Padam Kumar Tripathi says:

    Hi, It is very interesting article and i was also thinking in the same way. When you come to office, if you are not in good mood and say salary is not good then other team member also think and they also start participating in the conversation and they also stop working. If it is appraisal period then they discuss weeks of week about the rating and no productive work done during that time. So we need to start thinking of how to utilize 8 hours in a day, so no need to put extra efforts like weekends etc. Sometime i feel that we should have financial advisers in the company so they can plan the Financial road map of the employee so they can visualize how much they can get if they invest properly and no need to switch job every year just for the sake of penny. Still looking for the answer how to get involve the team from morning to evening on the work rather than discussion on salary, appraisal and working duration etc.

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