Coverage by Bhat Dittakavi of Variance.AI on “Reinventing Yourself” by S.A. Sridharan at a webinar organized by CtrlS, TiE Hyderabad and CEO Clubs on 13th April 2020
The moment I have learned that S.A. Sridharan is a disciple of well-known Swamy Parthasarathy, I was delighted. Swamy is known for demystifying the challenges of working professionals and entrepreneurs with his lucid wisdom. Back in 2000 or so, I attended his talk at Wall Street in New York City. I still remember his answer to my question about conflicts at work that bothered me. His simple advice was “Mind your own business” and it completely changed my work life. Swamy wrote a phenomenal book called “Vedantic Treatise”. It is a must-read, not once but several times. Every time I read it, I learn something new.
S.A. Sridharan is a speaker who has a crystal clear answer for every question. He talks with conviction and he has no ego. As you read excerpts from his talk below, I am positive you will find very powerful quotes that just stick.
Moderator: Sridhar Pinnapureddy, CEO of CtrlS
S.A. Sridharan: Like we make physical fitness a priority, we also must make mental fitness a priority. Mind space is the most sacred real estate we have. Make it a beautiful garden. Don’t let anyone sit in your mind. Then you are at peace. If you let others sit in your mind and continue to disturb you, you will get mental fatigue. Remember that work is part of you but not you. Similarly, a relation is part of you but not you. Align yourself with spirituality.
“Don’t prioritize your schedules. Schedule your priorities.”
Great Quality, Reasonable Price and Good Service must have been your priorities at work. You need to schedule these priorities. This might be part of your mission but you must continue to prioritize that mission. You may say, “I don’t find the time”. It means you are not scheduling your priorities. Don’t have a to-do list. Have a stop list. Make stop list a higher priority over the to-do list. Many low priority items drain your mental and physical energy. You must plug those drains with a stop list.
Here are four takeaways for you before we switch to the Q&A mode.
“The main thing is to put the main thing as the main thing.” This is a simple quote but it brings profound impact. It lets you schedule your top priority right away.
“Give space between action and stimulus. That space is your power to make a choice.” With that power, you can observe your thoughts before you respond.
“Positive thinking may not give you success but negative thinking will give failure.”
“If you don’t create the change, the change will create you.”
If you don’t have access to a higher intellectual or an expert, listen to your inner voice. To listen to your inner voice, you have to let go of your ego. Ego stands for Exaggerated Glorified Oneself. Once you let go off that ego, you will listen to your inner voice. When a mother gives a specific time window for her child to play in the park, she will come to the park at the end of that time window to pick her up. The child wants a few more minutes and the mother waits. After that, the mother is under control. Conscience is like that mother and mind is the child. Your conscience shall lead the mind.
Lockdown is not a difficulty but an opportunity. Lockdown is freedom for you. Around 800 years ago, Rumi said that “yesterday I was clever because I tried to change the world. Today I am wise because I tried to change myself.”
Sridhar: How to overcome an inferiority complex?
Sridharan: People may see you as inferior but do you see yourself as inferior? That’s the question. The inferiority complex lets you give into fear. If you surround yourself with people who look up to you. they give you ego. But you should surround yourself with people that you can look up to. Better to be inferior in the group of elite people. But nobody should make you inferior. When someone tells you or makes an inferior comment about you, think about it. “Is it right? Does it make sense?”. How do you take criticism? Is it an avenue to grow or a personal assault? Take it as feedback. If someone says my handwriting is bad, I see that as a possibility to improve my handwriting.
The feedback that I receive from certain people means I have to work on it and see that as objectively. Feeling inferior is a choice I make. The sustained feeling of inferiority is a terrible way to be.
Sridhar: Intent is always there. Execution is missing some times. How do we fix this?
Sridharan: The answer is determination and strong will. The excuse of “no time” won’t work. Having no time means we don’t have proper priorities. Sometimes fear makes you determined to be disciplined. You don’t need fear induced by an experience of a mild heart attack to make you determined for fitness. Let us be determined, not out of fear but by the joy of doing it. Surround yourself with disciplined people.
Sridhar: Whenever I am off track, I recall my happiness moments to get back on to the track.
Sridhar: Which one shall I choose? Responsibility or self-happiness?
Sridharan: Happiness is the priority. Responsibility sometimes can be coming out of “feeling obliged”. That responsibility leads to happiness. Missing out of weekend parties is not about missing happiness. Self-happiness is about fulfilling one’s own obligations regularly. Always do the right thing. It sacrifices some but astonishes the rest. Gita says “whoever does their obligatory duties the best is the yogi”. If you do your obligations or responsibilities well, there will be self-happiness. It doesn’t depend on whether others approve you or not.
One of the five regrets of any person’s life is “I wish I allowed myself to be happier”.
Sridhar: How do you define fear?
Sridharan: When there is inability or lack of capacity to face a situation, fear gets kicked in. One reason for fear is “selfishness”. Second is “ignorance”. Slight cold may make you suspicious about Corona. Ignorance. Bumping into a CEO in an elevator may create fear due to ignorance. Awareness creates fear. Maybe the taxi guy in a new place creates the fear as you don’t trust the driver and you suspect that he may take a different route. False evidence creates another fear. When you avoid fear, it grows. When you face fear, it goes away.
Sridhar: How to deal with an individual, who is wrong but you can’t correct him?
Sridharan: Assessment. You go to safari and enjoy the lion’s presence but you don’t go close to the lion. You may enjoy the portrait of a lion but you don’t go close to a lion. Similarly, some people are like lions. If the boss is difficult, you have to assess the boss correctly and accept the qualities of the person as he is. “This guy is manipulative but I enjoy my work and I will have great growth. I have to deal with this difficult person.” Dealing with difficult people lets you go places. Assess the qualities but accept. Assess the lion and accept it. Never go near the lion. Laugh within yourself by saying my assessment is right but don’t express it out. Deal with it and you are a leader.
Keep reinventing yourself.