"I am sorry" I said

20 Nov 2006
Posted by Kiran

November has been an unusually busy month so far and I have not been able to spend enough time on my blog. This makes me fear that this is going down the same line as many of my other "initiatives" that I picked up that eventually ended up by the wayside.

In any case, I have picked it up again and have finally been able to complete this post after a break of nearly 2½ weeks.

It was one of the many times when I had failed to spend enough time with my wife. And the words slipped from my mouth, "I am sorry" I said.

She looked at me, visibly disappointed but understandingly, and said "It is OK".

I have been married for just about 3 years now and this scene - of me saying "I am sorry" and she saying "It is OK" - has played itself out countless times in our lives already. It usually starts off with me being too preoccupied with work and either forgetting a personal commitment or not having sufficient time for something. It climaxes with she having to make compromises so that my work doesn't suffer.

Sometimes I wonder, is it ever going to stop? And the answer, I fear, is never!

As we climb up higher in the corporate ladder the expectations climb even higher. And we are perpetually trying to balance the demands of a "bright" career with those of our personal life. We are all trying to juggle around multiple commitments and usually the ones that are work-related are given higher priority while the personal ones get relegated to second place.

I must say I have been very lucky to have a very supportive wife & family. Though I have seen the occasional raised eye-brow when I tried to tip-toe into the house in the dead of the night, having skipped dinner, and then rushed back to work the next day morning, my parents and my wife stood firmly by me through these tough times. Had it not been for this unwavering support I received at home, professional success would have been impossible.

There have been times when my parents, worried by the perception that I was killing myself for seemingly no returns, have advised me to review my options. I have always tried to get them to look at the positives of my career and make them appreciate the "growth" I was hoping for.

But I would be lying if I said that I have never had doubts myself. There have been times when I have found myself pondering about whether the kind of work I was putting in was really worth all the heart-ache I was causing to myself and my dear ones. I have always convinced myself that the hard work would pay off rich dividends in future and that it would lead to faster growth. However, I am also conscious of the fact that more growth means more responsibility, which in turn means more pressure and more work and more hours away from my family. It seems, sometimes, to be a vicious cycle.

It is very obvious; you don't need to be a rocket scientist to work this out. The only way you can grow in an organization is by giving more value to the organization. As you go higher in the org structure, the amount of value-add that is expected out of you also increases. Though with experience the productivity of a person increases, you would still have to be a genius to be able to deliver on the higher expectations and still go home at 5 PM; or, you would need to stay late to cater to it. And let me tell you this - I am no Einstein.

So does that mean that I have reached a point where I am just going to put my feet up and say "I have had enough"?? No. Definitely not. I am nowhere near saying that. Let me admit it, the work is really demanding but the challenge is equally exhilarating. The feeling of having accomplished a nightmarish task leads to its own feeling of ecstasy! To be honest, I am also now used to the fat paycheck and fast-track life. I am certain I can't go back to a normal 9 to 5 job that doesn't pay or challenge me as much. And that is true for my family as well.

My family are going with me for the ride. It hasn't been pleasant all through out and there is bound to be unpleasantness in future as well. But we have to take it in our stride. There still are lessons to be learnt, things to be done, accolades to be earned.

At this point I am reminded of a very sweet poem by Robert Frost.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.