Old article posted in Times of India on November 21st 2015. Link here-
“What is your motivation in life?”
My talkative, confident frame, turned silent. The interview was going good as yet, like many other interviews I had given in the last fifteen days for incredulous positions like cashier, sales associate, produce associate read store help, call centre advisor and the likes.
She looked back at my now pale face and stared back with a glow in her youthful eyes at this fat, old, beaten man trying to compete for the job of a second shift stocker with boys and girls just out of school or a few losers like me looking blankly at each other out of their cold, frightened eyes.
“What motivates you?”
My tongue was frozen and my lips went dry. I was shell shocked. Earlier she had asked me about how I handled difficult customers, how I managed change, how I managed a job where I was provided limited resources. And I had spoken confidently about my life’s journey.
How after completing my Mechanical Engineering from IIT Bombay, one of the top most engineering institutions from back home in India, I had run factories, businesses, corporations in various managerial capacities including CEO/Business head in a rich career spanning twenty six years.
How I had turned around a sick unit losing a million dollars a year and made it one of the most modern and profitable textile mill of Northern India.
How change, efficient SCM, adapting new technologies, HRD than HRM , sustainability and the likes were the strategies which I effectively used at workplace to develop and lead teams from six to six thousand.
And how even in a cold, hostile nation like Canada which brings doctors, engineers, architects, lawyers, et al from alien nation to their feet, I had created my own path of success and had built a business and a name which made Canada recognize me as being one amongst the top 75 immigrants in 2013.
I had so much to speak to her up until this moment but now my mind went blank.
“Devanshu, is there any problem? Don’t you have a motivation in life?”
I was speechless, numb, taken aback.
I could not think of any motivation left in life.
When you reach a dead end in your professional life and your education and experience is considered useless at the workplace or when you are considered a dinosaur best suited to be kept with bare bones standing as a dead frame in a museum displaying past glory, then how do you answer that question?
What could motivate me?
Money: A minimum wage, minimum skill job would actually remind me every day of where I have brought myself with the risks that I had taken. Respect, job satisfaction, creativity- the less said the better!
My eyes were hurting by now and the pain inside was trying to pour out in small droplets from their corners.
And then the smiling face of my daughter hugging me hard, shouting “Pappu Narang” upon returning for a short break, from her campus in USA, stood in front of me. And that of my son explaining to hundreds and hundreds of Niagara Falls residents at his graduation ceremony as to how proud he was of his old man. And of my wife smiling and telling me to forget our loss of thousands and thousands of dollars brought by a wrong investment decision of mine.
I wiped my eyes clean, moistened my lips and brought the best smile I could bring to my weary but now shining face and spoke- ” My family and their smiles motivate me. I want to go to work to ensure that I can enjoy the small pleasures of our lives and grow old with them and see my children shine. I want to live to enjoy the morning cup of tea with my wife and fight with her over the better half of the biscuit that we share and to make boundaries in our bed spaces in the night so that she does not capture my part of bed. I want to work as I want to let them know that I will not give up and will fight till the very end and will rise every time I fall till god is tired of his tricks and takes me along to the very top of the world!”
My fellow travellers and perhaps losers of today, of whom I hope there are few and sundry, life can be a roller coaster and this could be our low but we will rise. Every night has a day and are day will come. It’s okay as it is darkest before day break.
And these instances of nothingness have been a great time too. Small things made me happy. Like cleaning utensils and preparing a little meal and seeing the smile on my wife’s face when she comes back tired from work. Like being able to enjoy the sun and seeing closely how the flowers smile back and sing silent prayers in the creator’s glory. Like being able to do my little acting gigs from time to time and seeing the smiles on the face of people when they see this old, bald man, acting, singing, dancing and making merry.
Oh yes, I did not get that job too. Some young spirit beat me to that! But so what, I will try again. Every dog has his day and my day will come.
Till then, I will keep walking