Monday, September 19, 2011

Learning never ends, neither does work

Over the weekend while I sat reading some emails and my commitment towards writing Oh I See, a 4-year old walked by and curiously observed my activities, uninterested she moved on. An hour later, once again she found me transfixed at the same spot. This time she queried the nature of my busyness. I replied that I was working. “What are you working on ? Do you have homework ? If you did not do your homework, your teacher will punish you ?”

What is the incentive for any CXO to invest his/her spare time towards anything related to work ? Do organizations really expect 24 X 7 attention ? The portable computer was just the beginning, the tablet is not the end; increased connectivity driven by technology advances in telecom coupled with mobile enabled work processes as well as applications leave few areas unexplored. But these are optional to some extent and do not impact everyone in the same way. Reality is that work expands to fill all the time like traffic expands to take up available bandwidth in a network. Are you doing what matters ?

So is there a way out ? Different strategies work for different people. Some take the discretionary route to carefully deciding what occupies their precious time. It could be reading newsletters, industry research, business magazines or management books, or just the general newspapers; fiction and other categories like travel also find their place. It is the discipline that keeps them going. The time thus spent is invested in gaining perspectives or insights that could help in various walks of life. The remaining choose to stay away from such mundane activities.

While I make a general observation from my limited span of friends, colleagues and acquaintances I have interacted with, the fact is that reading as a habit or investment is waning. Most IT professionals slog to acquire various degrees and certifications, but stop short of expanding horizons. This is despite the fact that it is a lot easier to find information in all forms, print or digital. Reasons and excuses revolve around paucity of time, to work pressures to just plain inertia.

I have been asked the question “How do you find time to read so much, write a blog, respond to so many IT reporters ?”. I don’t know, but I do find it. Without sounding condescending I would say that to begin with it is the prioritization of critical versus important. Focus on what matters towards where you want to be. Second is the determination to learn. It does not matter what you start with as long as you do. Slowly curiosity rises and it becomes a habit that generates long term benefits.

I find that every interaction provides a new perspective, a new question, a new way of thinking; the opportunity is too tempting to leave. This is especially true when I interact with students in B-Schools. They challenge you with the sole motive being to learn from your experience. So I spend nights, weekends, traveling time, and spare hours at work, whatever sliver of time I can find. Like the proverbial drops, they do fill the ocean. After all, any time is better than no time.

I believe that learning is not a destination to reach. Learning ends when we complete the journey of life.


  1. Great Insight. I always make a point to read something or other. Those may not be related to IT but I am a voracious reader and yes I do find time to read. Earlier I used to write also but from last 3-4 years I have decided to give some more time to family hence taken a break from writing.Would start soon.

  2. It is the attitude of the person on how to multi task on priorities. Work life balance and personal growth are all within our control. I have been able to give time for personal and digital networking because I enjoy it. I am unable to find time for my obesity issues as I do not enjoy those task and discussion. It is all up in the mind and how you control it.

    Sanjay Mehta