It was the morning hours of 14th June 2016, Melvin was on his way to court along with his Dad for an important case that had to unveil a suspense. The day was of tense and in the silence of conversations between them in the moving car, both seemed to have understood the pace at which their conversation was taking place with no words spoken.
Perhaps the maturity or a sense of need for diversion of attention, silence was broken by Melvin’s dad directing him to the turn he needs to take to the venue. As the car stalled at the signal for a left turn, Victoria Engineering College was exactly in front of them.
This college had its royal touch with it’s aged, rather an antique look proudly keeping its face up showing the stature of having nurtured many lives. The city of Palghat, a province tucked inside the Western Ghats of India today adorns a modern city culture and is no more that old village. The world of Mc Donald’s, KFCs and Dominos have taken over the energy vessels of the city.
However, the college of engineering where his Dad did his electrical engineering in early 60’s has not lost its natural historical feel that it had years ago. The entrance had the huge pagoda-like structure with an open ground hidden inside solid structure of classrooms on all four sides. While the atmosphere inside the car was of tension, it didn’t take much time for Melvin’s dad to pass through the memories of his past. An opportunity to break the silent conversation and a tense mind was not spared by him.
Catching on to the memories, as the car turned left… He quickly pointed at a small narrow road where he stayed as a paying guest in a house adjacent to the road which is a few miles away from the college. He stayed with an old couple who lived in a small house. His place of stay was the Corridor where he studied, slept and sat and where his books were kept amidst his few clothes.
The couple often had to tread over him when they need to move between rooms. That’s the life that he had while studying and he recollects the same with pride. Melvin had his heart pounding with tears while he heard what his dad had gone through. In the comfort of a car, a two-storied house, no tension for food and money, the life had been a blessing for him and his only brother. Little they realized that the painless life that they had and have today was a result of a man who slept in a Corridor of a house.
Often we realize that we have less comfort until we know what our parents have gone through.
Management is not about having resources, but the ability and focus in managing a situation within the limited resources. If he had spent his time complaining about his limitations, Melvin wouldn’t be driving a car today. Most often we complain about what we do not have, realizing little about the possibilities that we have with what we have in hand.
Pointing his finger across the road towards the rear side of his college, he showed an area where there were toilets constructed in a row for public. These were the toilets that he used as there were no toilets at the house where he stayed. These were a few miles away and a walk of five minutes is his daily ritual to the toilets. He explained the toilet structure as it used to be just a hole where you defecate and I believe there were some tribes those days who used to carry these away as their daily job. Today, you can’t even imagine a life such of that and in the luxury of toilets and washrooms, we still complain. If water does not come out of the luxury of faucets, we get stressed. We have forgotten to live in scarcity.
The lessons of self-management were best taught by nature in early years which today we learn in a corporate classroom with laser-projected power point presentations.
He then showed a way that takes you to the famous Yakara River which flows through the Western Ghats foothill watering the paddy fields around. That’s the river he would take a shower before going to attend his classes. That’s another ten minutes of a walk for him and still he managed to be on time for his classes. Today, we have everything that helps in commuting to work and still we reach offices late.
The car crossed the bridge over the river and moved ahead to the court’s parking and they both moved off to a small tea shop for a quick tea before the presence at the court.
The day was full of tension and discomfort for Melvin but this small episode of conversation with his dad touched him so much that he didn’t know of this past of his father and a reflection of the same today brings tears in his eyes.
This may be a personal story and has no connotation to my usual blogs on management. But this made me reflect on the self-discipline that Melvin’s dad had in achieving his career aspirations, the self-management principles he had as daily chores to just attend his classes, the ease with which he managed the limited resources uncomplainingly, his attentiveness to studies in the midst of disturbance in a small Corridor of a house etc. talks of basic management principles.
He never regretted the situations that he had been through but took the pain to succeed. Everyone must choose one of two pains—either the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.
I am sure all of us have similar stories when we search in the history of our untold heroes. Our parents!!! Where else we need to search for a learning of management and leadership. It’s right there.
At the end of pain is Success!!!