The Road to Hundred Medals

As the Indian contingent in the Asian Games hauls hundred medals for the first time in history, we look at some lessons this journey can teach us.

The Indian contingent at the Asian Games 2023 has hauled hundred medals for the first time! With the gold in women’s kabbadi, the medal count reached the grand hundred (and still counting!).

The victories come with lessons in attitude, discipline, sportsmanship and never giving up.

Getting up after the fall:

Sport is unpredictable, and it treats everyone equally: it doesn’t matter how experienced or inexperienced you are, the rules apply equally to everyone, everyone can make mistakes, everyone can reverse the mistakes and everyone is out there in the open to give their best. There was a point in the nail-biting final match between India and Chinese Taipei when an Indian player slipped and gave the opponents a two-point lead. But India bounced back and made history. The Indian player who slipped, and the team could have just thrown the towel and decided that it’s out of their hands now. They could have blamed each other and cried foul at the opponents.

 But their ‘antifragile’ attitude- learning from mistakes and using those to their advantage- made all the difference.

You will make mistakes, sometimes huge ones. You might fall, you might get knocked down in spite of all the preparation, experience and wisdom but the attitude lies in getting up after the fall.

Never Stop Playing:

Playing when the whole world is watching you can be daunting- every mistake you make is out there for everyone to see (and replay!). On the other end is the fact that you could give your best for years and still not get the credit due to you.

As the team gets its due recognition now, it is to be noted that this hasn’t always been the case. The women’s kabbadi team is a giant in the sport- in the previous editions of the games, it has consistently won medals, gold included, and yet most players remain unknown. A google search for them yields very few results as compared to many players of more ‘glamourous’ sports, or even male players of many other sports.

But does this lack of due recognition lead the team to stop playing? The Indian kabbadi captain Ritu Negi continues to lead the team. Pushpa Rani continues to be the all-rounder that she is. Pooja Hathwala continues to be a great raider.

The system might work against you, but as long as you know your worth, and continue to put up a fight, sooner or later, recognition will come. There might be a mellow show, or the show might not even be planned, but you must go on.

Nothing is Impossible:

A time-traveller might go back in time by a decade or two, and if they were to ask any random Indian if they think it is possible that India will ever win a hundred medals, the stranger might just laugh it off as impossible. Or they might say that if the events are just going to be of cricket, then yes, there was a possibility. Thinking about this three-digit medal haul was considered unrealistic at one point in very recent history.

Something that was deemed impossible and unrealistic has now been achieved thanks to an effort at the level of the collective- right from all the athletes of all the sports, to the system, to the administration and to the people for continuing to cheer the little wins. And how to forget the individual effort of the athletes? The individual athletes continued their ‘karma’, giving their best in whatever way possible. As the little wins over the years cumulated, the people and the system looked up and started to envision the possibilities.

Things might seem impossible, unrealistic and just unachievable. But does that mean we give up hope? Does that mean we should stop working towards anything worthwhile? Be it sports, or life outside of sports in the office, working on things that are under our control is always an option rather than to give up.

As our athletes at Hangzhou continue to give their best, and make dreams of billion come true with their hard work, we congratulate them on how far they have come. We thank them for teaching us lessons about determination, dreams and having confidence in competence.

Do you have the ladder thinking or rock-climbing thinking?

Rock-climbing could be a more realistic and accurate metaphor for handling careers, than climbing ladders.

We have heard the age-old metaphor of climbing the ladder:

We take a step, and then we look for a step above. When we aim to climb the corporate ladder, we aim to take a career, rise up the ranks through L&D and promotions, one step at a time. A very easy looking ladder. Almost too easy, too simple. Actually, too simplistic.

What if we were to think of a more organic metaphor? Something a lot more realistic and less simplistic? How about the metaphor of rock-climbing?

We all must have seen visuals of climbers, with their harnesses and equipment, climbing over steep rocks and mountains. Or we might be familiar with those rock-climbing gymnasiums that offer a protected environment to develop our skills.

Rock-climbing, in any case, seems to be a more relatable and realistic metaphor that we should be applying to the concept of career growth. Let us delve into it.

Climbing requires us to be strong and competent enough. If we aren’t, we can slowly learn, through the support of ropes, harnesses and other equipment. Similarly, to be a competent employee requires that we have some skill-set that can support us. We learn. We start small- we don’t aim to reach the peak, when we know two feet above the ground is what will be a major achievement for us. Shadowing, internships, mentorship programmes, observing colleagues and seniors we admire, upskilling workshops could be the harnesses through which we learn in the corporate world. The more we practice, the more we learn, the stronger we get- in climbing and in our field.  And the beauty of it is there is a possibility to get stronger.

When we are strong enough, it becomes easier to climb the most complicated surfaces.

Climbing is complicated indeed. Beginners will tell you how each step can be a challenge. Each little movement requires one to calculate the move, and at the same time, rely on one’s instincts. Climbing doesn’t simply involve going in an upward direction. Experienced climbers will tell you how there are times when we must ‘read’ the surface, and adjust our positions- spot the tiny but sturdy rock that offers support and saves you from a fall, or stretch ourselves just about right, consider the physics, and with one little pivot, climb a few feet at once. Systematically. Similarly, in the corporate world, we sometimes need to think about lateral growth. Perhaps as we can explore other departments. Through those ‘tiny rocks’ we might end up acquiring more skill-sets, finding our own hidden talents, which will eventually help us find our own niche.

And big rocks that appear sturdy and strong, might come loose as you step on them. Just as big companies might not always be as they appear- mass lay-offs, toxic competitiveness are only some ‘loose rocks’ we have heard of recently. You see, climbing isn’t simply about going up– it is also about going side-ways, maybe take a few steps down, make a diagonal move and then perhaps make a move that will finally take us to the next level. Just as exploring inter-departmental growth.

Growing in one’s career can be all about encountering challenges, and finding the best possible move at that point. The move might take us a few notches sideways, perhaps even seemingly down a few steps, but eventually, it is all progress.

A career can be a straight line for some people, of course- go study accounting, and become an accountant. Have an MBBS, finish your MD, a bunch of internships, residencies and finally become a doctor. But for so many of us, career growth involves some trial and error. Perhaps you started off with a science degree, but realised eventually that you find much more fulfilment in having your own business. Or you started off with a keen interest in journalism, only to realise later that a management job is where you thrive.

Like climbing, handling a career is about staying strong in the present, and still finding a way to move forward. It is about finding out that as skills, strength and competence develop, as we learn new things about us and our environment, there might be unexplored avenues for us that might surprise us.  

Too Obvious…Obviously !

There are articles all over the internet telling us all about out-of-the-box thinking. We are encouraged to brainstorm innovative and ground-breaking solutions; we are encouraged to think differently. We are told to move beyond the obvious and find ways to come up with fresh insights.

But somewhere, we forget about the surprising power of stating the obvious.

Stating what is seemingly obvious. To us.

The Deceptively Simple:

Let us delve further into this. What is it about brainstorming that makes us hold back on our ideas? Often, we underestimate the value of seemingly simple solutions. Additionally, we just assume everyone thinks the same way as we do.

An article by Teresa Colon on Medium tells us about some seemingly obvious solutions which no one voiced. The writer goes on,

‘One good example is the time my company was assembling a customer summit. We had channel partners who wanted to attend (for those unfamiliar, those are essentially resellers) and we were nervous about getting enough customers to sign up. It was critical for the defined success of the summit that it was customer-heavy and -focused.

What’s the obvious answer here?

Obviously, it seemed to me, the partner who has the most customers in attendance gets to go. It incents the partners to encourage their customers to sign up and gives them a stake in the success of the event. It seemed so obvious to me that I didn’t bother even speaking it aloud. I assumed that someone else was already working on that angle.

It wasn’t until thirty minutes into the conversation, when we were still brainstorming ideas for signing up customers, that I verbalized what I thought was obvious.

I got blank stares all around before the “ahas” showed up on their faces. Apparently, what was obvious to me wasn’t obvious to them.’

Or maybe, it was obvious to everyone but no one thought it was an insight valuable enough, innovative enough, ground-breaking enough to be spoken out loud. Everyone might have been wondering about the sheer simplicity of the idea, the sheer obviousness of it. And who wants to hear the obvious, they all must have wondered.

Turns out, that obvious, deceptively simple insight was what pushed the discussion forward.

The Ridiculousness of the Obvious:

As mentioned earlier, in a culture that stresses the need to innovate and break rules all the time, the obvious sounding solutions actually become the need of the hour. Some ideas seem so obvious that no one thinks worth voicing them, and as a result, the one who does voice them becomes an innovator! It is almost a comical situation where one takes a detour because they think the main road would be jampacked, only to realise everyone thought the main road would be jampacked and thus everyone ended up taking the detour, creating a traffic-jam there. The one who took the main road found no traffic.  

Moreover, most of us are stressed out, and often overburdened and it might take a nudge for us to see the obvious.

Organisational Psychologist Adam Grant gives us more nuances to think about in an article:

‘A few years ago, the people analytics experts at Google stunned me with one of their recommendations to managers. They had been studying how to onboard new hires effectively. After running surveys and experiments, they came back with a list of tips. Here’s the one that jumped out at me:

Meet your new hires on their first day.

People analytics has transformed HR and talent management into a data-driven field. Since Google was a pioneer in the field, I was expecting an aha moment. Instead, I got a duh-ha moment — a sudden flash of the blindingly obvious.’

Grant goes on to wonder how as an Organisational Psychologist his work has been to present ‘the counterintuitive’, ‘the unexpected’, ‘the overlooked’. But then he goes on to say how,

‘…Google’s analytics team had done the exact opposite of all that: They had confirmed the most banal of my expectations. I felt like I was hearing from Pelé that the key to becoming a great soccer player is wearing shoes. Who needs to be told to meet their new hires on their first day? What kind of manager wouldn’t do that?

A busy one, it turns out.

A manager who is so preoccupied with their work and burdened with so much responsibility that a simple idea like this just doesn’t register or strike. We are a busy species and sometimes, we forget the value of simple actions. It takes a sudden realisation to see how simple and uncomplicated a situation can be.

The sudden realisation of the value in taking the main road when everyone is busy taking the detour.

The value of obvious ideas is thus often overlooked because of the widespread culture of pushing innovation a bit too much. We often underestimate our own ideas and thinking, assuming it might be obvious to everyone, only to realise much later that not everyone thinks the same way as we do. Effortless, obvious, simple solutions are what’s needed amidst a culture that can become monotonous, tiring and one that stretches us in all directions with countless commitments.

Lives of Happy Candidates: Mr. Gopal Singh Bisht

Success story_Gopal Bisht

The meaning of “success” is somewhat elusive. It means differently to different people.

For some, it is all about fame and fortune. For others, it includes finding enough time to follow one’s passion, and sometimes, exclusively just that. In yet another sense, success means achieving a certain peace of mind. A common perception of the term has to do with achieving a perfect work-life balance.

Generally health, wealth and an increased learning are safe indicators of “success.”

Many believe in letting success do the talking.

We believe in our successful candidates do the talking!

Settling, being comfortable in a new place is no mean feat. Mr. Gopal Singh Bisht, who works at Parco Group of Industries in Nigeria has some happy words to say.

” I am grateful to you for connecting me with Parco Group. I am well-settled here and doing well. ”

Mr. Gopal Singh Bisht
Mr. Gopal Singh Bisht


He continues, “So far I am enjoying my work with African Foundaries Limited. I have also gained more experience, which I am sure would help me in my career in near future.”

He also tells us how he finds time to have fun.

“Apart from working, there is time for pleasure here as well. We go to different parts of the country for refreshment: shopping, to the beach, etc.”

Times at the beach
Times at the beach


As one can see, Nigeria has a lot more to offer than the negative stereotypes we come across through hearsay and exaggerations.

Learning, and becoming a better professional requires adapting to the new place. We give kudos to Mr. Bisht for actively doing so. But more importantly, any new endeavor should not only be conducive to professional success but also to general well-being and health. And our happy candidate proves this with his testimonial.

“Working in this company, I have learned to accommodate according to the rules laid down by the management. I must confess this is the best company I have worked with. The environment is conducive. The offices are good. The place has affected my health in a positive manner.”

Good health, professional growth, work-life balance, hope for the future, gratitude are some great indicators of success and Mr. Bisht has articulated that.

Behind the Workaholism

Workoholic - Copy

The work culture of any corporate enterprise differs, and there are factors like the industry concerned, whether it is privately owned or state owned, and many other such variables. The policies they follow, the brand they wish to establish are all elements which determine a company’s work culture.

  Workaholic and workaholism are some words which have of late entered the professional vocabulary. And the phenomenon is something that has entered in the corporate culture, regardless of the policies, though obviously not in equal degrees.

  Firstly, it is necessary to understand the difference between a workaholic and someone who works extensively for long hours.

  A workaholic is a person with a compulsive need to work. Simply put, he or she just cannot “switch off”. Even when not working, this person can only think about work and work-related things. Personal relationships and health often suffer because of this compulsion.

  On the other hand, someone might work for extremely long hours. But if he or she is able to disconnect and not constantly think about work when not on the job, we can’t consider this person a workaholic.

Even if one loves the job, it is necessary to cut off for some time.

We must realise that the blame should not be put on the person concerned.

  Over the years, the corporate culture has shaped up in a certain way.

  Firstly, with technology becoming mainstream and almost a necessity, it has become easier to “carry” work around. One can just open up a laptop and do what they were doing in the office. This way, it becomes difficult to “switch off” since work and work-related things are literally within an arm’s reach and just a few clicks away, anytime.

 Coupled with this, imagine the need we are constantly force-fed with: the need to be productive.

Not just of the corporate culture, but a general characteristic of our times is the need to constantly “do” something.

Anything that doesn’t give you stress and workload gets considered useless.

“What’s the point of working if you are not busy all the time?” seems to be the misleading policy so many live by.

It is necessary to remember that a busy worker is not necessarily a productive worker.

Long working hours are not to be equated with productive working hours.

   20th century saw the rise of the workaholic culture, with more and more people acting like “working machines”. And these were the role models the 21st century generations have access to. The rise in social media addictions did not work very well into the mix. Add to it, the success which could be “seen” sells on social media. And unfortunately, “the grind” has become a tangible marker of such a success, and also the only road to success.

  Bad health, personal relationships suffering are only considered as part and parcel of this grind, or worse, mere obstacles to “success”.

In such a milieu, it is a tough job to not become a workaholic.

   It is a good sign that many countries, especially the European ones are now reducing the work hours of employees to ensure there is a work-life balance, Denmark being a famous example. According to the OECD Better Life report, they have a better work-life balance than any country, with majority of workers spending two thirds of their day in eating, sleeping and indulging in leisurely pursuits.

   It is necessary that companies take steps to bring changes in the corporate culture to ensure overall well-being of employees.

  The image of a “driven and ambitious” person, motivated to rise to the top of the corporate ladder, with all the focus in the world on the job, no matter what may come, actually comes with its costs and risks. The crisp formal attire, might hide cardiovascular and stress-induced chronic ailments.

Behind the calm, confident, controlled expressions on the face may lie missed birthday parties and parent-teacher meetings, unresolved issues with a loved one, half-hearted family outings with the mind being at work, exasperated by the “waste of time”.