Convocation speeches by some of the guests are sometimes worth a million words. Its always experience which speaks and not mere words penned by some writer. And this speech by Axis Bank MD & CEO, Shikha Sharma was excellent advice. Talking during the convocation at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, an alumna herself, her candid advice to students on choosing the right partner – in personal as well as professional life was too good. She said,
“It is a cliché to say that the choice of a life partner is the single-most important choice you will make in your life…it is a cliché because it is true. As H. Jackson Brown Jr wrote, “Choose your life’s mate carefully. From this one decision will come 90% of all your happiness and misery.”
I don’t know about the 90%…but the fact is that much of the joy you derive on the journey of life does hark back to whom you choose to share this journey with. A lot of what I am today, the achievements that were so kindly mentioned in the introduction, are a function of the partner I was lucky to have alongside on my journey.
Sanjaya and I are very different people. He is widely read, divergent (in) thinking, and creative; I am a lot more linear (in) thinking and introverted. But on the most important thing, we are not different at all—we have very similar core values. If I were to point out the one thing that has made our partnership successful, it is just that—the alignment on core values. Indulge me for a minute if I sound like a mom! When you are out there looking for a partner, look beyond their looks, their success, their style. The durability and strength of your relationship is not going to come from your partner’s personality—it is going to come from their character. So remember to look well beneath the surface.
My discussion of partner choice has so far been about life partners. But as professionals you will find that you are frequently faced with a very similar choice—that of organisations or teams. The principles of what makes for lasting relationships with your work team or with your organisation aren’t terribly different from those that make lasting personal partnerships. It is easy to get enamored by the visible but superficial details of a new job you are considering—the money, the fancy title, the foosball table in the break-room. But in most cases, that is not what makes for a fulfilling career. You want to join an organization that has values that match yours; that has people you can be yourself with; that gives you the space to be who you have the potential be as a professional. These are not things that any firm can tell you in their pre-placement talk. It is something you can only find out the hard way, by doing your own research, by looking beneath the surface.”
Sound words of wisdom indeed!