A few days spent in Chennai took me for a walk down memory lane. Meeting friends from school, college and my first job were wonderful. Catching up on the important milestones in their lives that whizzed past and sharing some of my own made me think about the choices I made. It also brought into focus those who chose me. “Choose me” seems to be a recurring theme.
I am transported back to my school playground and the times when teams were being chosen. Captain or player the emotion was the same. “Choose me… I silently clamoured.” The joy of being one of the first picks versus the sting of feeling less than or not wanted as a tail-end straggler is still so fresh in my mind.
What happens when the shoes are on the other foot? As a captain did I choose to make my best friends happy and pick them or do I just focus on the best players? Who do I choose? What governs that choice? What is the price of each choice?
Love life in college – the same theme again. My best friend’s girlfriend becomes my girlfriend. Somehow, I managed to retain both. I gained a girlfriend without losing a friend. Maybe he knew that she would choose to leave me one day and fly away. When she chose me, I was over the moon with joy. When she chose to leave I was broken (for a while) and then I chose to pick myself up and play on.
MBA and making groups were like being back on the playground again. “Choose Me” rears its head in B school and this time it was not just fun and games, it was about getting good grades. For the subjects that I am good at, I get to pick who I want on my team. In the places where I struggle, I struggle to find anybody willing to include me. A few good friends come to my rescue and allow me to be part of their groups and even there I need to find a way to make myself useful. Ordering chai and samosas, getting hot Maggi and other beverages to keep the group going late into the night was important work. My motorcycle and I paved the way for Zomato and Swiggy – it was a way of delivering (pun intended) great value to some of the groups that allowed me to put my name on assignments where my intellect did not contribute.
Finding my first job. A series of Interviews. Group discussions galore. Getting my first break was a series of efforts to get my interviewers to choose me. Standing out from the crowd of CVs was all about fitting into the world of the hirer. Making them see me and how I could potentially work for them.
Pitches and winning business. This theme continues. Learning the art and science of creating the winning pitch presentation and getting them to choose me. Solving client problems and being a trusted partner seems to be part of the winning formula. Reading the room right is about knowing what the client’s pain points are and having creative solutions to address their needs. When I do this well. They chose me.
In every department of life, choosing me is actually not about me. It’s about them. All of the ‘thems’ – what value do I deliver? How do I help them feel better about themselves? Do I make their life easier? Do I offer them Knowledge or wisdom? Do I entertain them in some way? Do I make them feel comfortable and safer because I am with them? Do I make them feel valued? “Choose Me” is all about delivering value in my inimitable way. My unique blend of being and doing that makes me stand out from the crowd is what helps them choose me.
After all these efforts to get chosen, I arrive at a simple truth. I have to see me clearly. I have to choose me. Then choose to allow myself to be the best version of myself that I can be. And then. Only then, will they choose me.
In the words of my good friend Simply Suparnaa, who decodes this so simply “The work we seemingly do for others is always for the self”
It was always about me. “Choose Me….”
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