I don’t like personality tests. I don’t like them because they like to shoe horn people into a box and explain how a person’s responses to a few questions are a predictor of their behaviour. But I am taking a leadership class this term and I had to fill out one of those the other night and later reflect on the results and see what I could do about the fact that my neuroticism is low. Well… good. Let’s keep it that way!
Today’s class however was a whole new level of crazy… we did an exercise that bordered on complete idiocy, but bear with me for a minute… it turned out to be a little useful when all was done. Just remember that I am the biggest skeptic when it comes to these things, so when I say it had its uses… I MEAN IT!
Here was our first task…
We were asked to write down the things we would do if we had been informed by a doctor that we had cancer and knew we were going to die. We had exactly six months to live and then we would drop dead. But until that time, we would not suffer. It would be the most non-threatening of illnesses… except for the end part where you drop dead. You can think of it like an aneurysm.
Like I said, this was a whole new level of crazy
Around the table, people wrote about spending more time with family and travelling. When it was my turn… Well, my responses were a little… different.
1) Say thank you to people I haven’t. Bury the hatchet with people I have argued with. Say hello to people I see, but don’t say hello to.
2) Take risks… sky diving, bungee jumping… anything!
3) Write a book properly. No more leisure writing, but complete my book. Leave behind a legacy.
4) Go and live with/stay with her. The person I want to, but don’t right now because life is too complicated. (Let’s not obsess over who she is… okay?)
5) Take out a life insurance policy: D
What was interesting then is something a fellow student said- that we can actually do these things right now. We don’t need to be given an ultimatum to start saying thank you and taking risks and being closer to our families…
Next part of the exercise was- you are told that in fact you are not going to die… and so you live a long life. Then write your eulogy.
Here is what I wrote. Don’t laugh… (too much :p)
Rahul Mishra died one October evening in his sleep. He is survived by his wife and two loving daughters at their home in Paris. He was 75.
Rahul was a kind man, having been given a second shot at life, he had reinvented himself, become a famous writer with many adoring fans. He never stopped following his dreams and always sought new knowledge and experiences. He was full of love and admiration for his friends and family.
He will be deeply missed.
Now, most of the others had something along the same lines, but I was the only one who talked about having 2 daughters and a wife! Hey! In my defence, if I go and spend a few months with her when it’s my last few days on earth. Then if I find out I am going to live and she had taken me in when I was dying… it’s not rocket science… of course we end up together. Don’t you people watch romantic comedies and believe in fairy tale endings?
I think what people found entertaining was the details, you know, home in Paris and 2 daughters named Archana and Zooey! 😀
No really, I made the names up just now, I didn’t christen them in class. Although I should tell you guys that Arhcana will be a Mathematician and Zooey… Zooey will be an artist. Right…
So the purpose of all this was essentially to come up with what we wanted from life. A few more ‘exercises’ later and I had my answer.
1) Financial Independence
2) Creative Environment
And at a glance you can see exactly what is wrong with that picture. I absolutely cannot control any of those 3 things. I cannot control where I work and if I am financially independent. And how can one control Status?
Others had more reasonable choices… like work life balance and achievement… You can look for jobs that let you get those and you can control how you balance work and life… but it’s hard, very hard to control the crucial things that I value.
There! I’m done with my whining. Leadership class… strange, but also a little insightful.