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I hope this isn’t always true …

The appraisal cycle at work is almost at the end and has given rise to rumors that range from optimistic to ludicrous to jump-off-the-building depressing. Raises, progressions and ratings… Whew. We play the cat and mouse game till the outcome trots along taking its own sweet time.

I am not exactly Ms. Ambitious. Never have I aimed to top exams or fast track the corporate ladder to be the next CXO. Yes, I have certain plans to follow and standards to achieve – but by no means have I been governed by them.

But the last year has been different. The yardstick of my personal success criteria is becoming taller and broader. I have not planted stick in the ground and climbing to meet it. I am balancing it on my head which means … it keeps becoming taller and I’ll never be able to meet it.

I am setting myself up for disappointment here, am I not?

Expectations from self had been easy to dismiss while expectations from others always come with the extra pressure to deliver. Tables are turning and now I am not sure of what is becoming of me. I am becoming fiercely guarded about my work … I am almost crossing the line of assertiveness and stepping into the unknown territory of aggression.

I have never really LEAD people before and now that is happening, I am a little stumped. I want to set a good example and I fear I am trying to do too much. On the other hand, I don’t really want to slack off. It is a cumbersome process of striking a balance – you know being the perfect mix of fun and friendly yet firm.

I am over-thinking it because it has never mattered to me before and now all of a sudden, I have really strategic visions about myself. And now I care about it.

I am sure this feeling is common. I just want it to feel common for me too. Ironically, there is a strong part of me that just wants to quit and travel!

Go figure …

Professionally Speaking

I had a mini Eureka moment at work. And I assure you it rarely happens.

So for all practical purposes, I am a “junior” in my team given that there is a minimum gap of 8 years in terms of work experience with other members. And it has been a tremendous learning and grooming experience! It feels pretty awesome being treated with the same level of respect, authority and expectations. And I have been extremely lucky to have a team that has mentored me during my plunges in unfamiliar waters.

But this awesome senior helped me understand something – do not bow down simply because of your age and lack of experience. My role revolves predominantly on client interactions and being a liaison; there are folks with a gazillion years of experience under their belt but often clueless in certain areas. I am supposed to jump in and steer them towards the right direction.

I had flat-out refused at first… Frankly, I was scared. I simply could not take them to task, review their work and give “constructive feedback”. But slowly I learnt how to handle delicate situations. I did fumble and mumble but all in all I managed to come to terms with the work. But it was difficult to be rid of the block “I am inexperienced – how can I do this!”.

And then came the “Eureka” moments. Our team was expanding and we needed more resources. So lo and behold! I was assigned with conducting preliminary interviews. Pop went “No! No! No!” inside my head. The “junior block” reared its snotty flaming nose very aggressively. But okay! Here goes…  I reached out and dialed.

And my doubts melted away. It struck me with the subtlety of a club that intelligence comes from area of expertise – what I lacked in years I made up in expertise. I was warm and cozy in the work while these candidates were still in the blue ocean. In that one moment, I found my confidence and my humility – to acknowledge people for their work and not just years of experience.

Skills. Skills. Skills. The work is what defined me even though the process itself was challenging and annoying. Today, one and half years later, I am entrusted with project management apart from the consulting assignments. I am learning to handle multiple projects and balance priorities driven by my instinct. I am slowly understanding people and significance of the professional relationships in this maze of development. I am allowing myself to make mistakes rather than not do anything at all. And I am thoroughly enjoying being in the driver’s seat with its breaks and accelerators!

So yay! For our work. For our expertise. For our learning….

Okay, let’s be real! The YAY is just for our weekends… The rest is stupid.

What was your defining coming-of-age moment in your professional life?

Observations of a Frustrated Desk

Listen up Young Man!

You stalk in here every morning,

Your suit sharp and briefcase gleaming,

A scent of expensive cologne trails behind,

Dreadfully camouflaging the reek of a rotting mind.


Your frown greets me sourly,

Your fingers slam at my smooth surface,

Your foot taps restlessly against my corner,

Your shoulders crack from a cramped misery,

Your tie chokes every pleasantry you spittle out,

Your pursed mouth smothers your violent expletives.


Where is the boy who wished to soar in stars?

Where is the athlete who lived to play football?

Where is the youth who aspired to bring a change?

I see a ghost who has forgotten the face of the skies.

I find a shadow who can barely keep up his forged smile.

I hear a slave who bequeathed the power of a spirited fight.


Listen up Young Man!

The stale air is drawing your life out,

The dream of green notes haunting your sleep,

The incessant torrent of reports stifling your vision,

Run! Lest they make a rat out of you in this twisted race.

At dVerse, Marina Sofia recommended an exercise to make the abstract concrete, where I ended up with the prompt “Frustrated Desk”. This is my slightly skewed take on it.