The Importance of Keeping Faith: In Life, God, Destiny, Yourself

I am personally against the idea of God and the existence of a super being. Yet I am writing this article about the importance of keeping faith, be it faith in your religion and God, in life itself, or in yourself. Life can be strange, and it can make people change, and it has been the same with me. I have always been flexible and ready to change myself and my thinking about any aspect of life, and the last couple of years have certainly made an impact in the area of faith.

I was a god-fearing and ritual-following kid in my childhood. I can still recall a few instances where I followed superstitious rituals without questioning them only because my family used to follow them. But as I started to grow up, I saw my parents struggle in their finances, health, and business, day after day, year after year. I witnessed my father starting and closing down one business after another, and saw him being deceived by good friends and business partners. I saw my mother doing everything from handling multiple jobs, teaching us brothers and taking care of the entire household only to get sick with asthma, arthritis and later cancer. And all this while they had complete faith in GOD. This was enough to break my faith in the existence of God or any super being.

But I now think that I was too naive back then to understand the deeper meaning in what all was happening. All these years of struggle have made my parents what they are today. The tough times were life’s tests which made them stronger. And what I totally missed was how this childhood shaped me. It made me tougher, mature, and filled me with a desire to take on challenges in life continuously. And perhaps my childhood is the reason for my compassion and empathy towards the less privileged and weaker sections of our society.

Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death

Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death

Life is a series of steps and milestones. Important events, whether positive or negative, mark these steps and our lives take a turn in a new direction. We always welcome the positive events, like marriage, a new job, or profits in business. But more often than not, we regret the negative events like the death of a near one, some major illness or some financial loss. We hold onto them and blame ourselves, others, situations, and sometimes even God.

What we forget is that everybody goes through these tough times. When we are going through these times, it is very easy to loose perspective and see only ourselves as the victim. In such times, having faith is very important. The faith which tells us to hold on, to keep our cool and maintain our strength and to wait patiently for better times. Even these negative events always have something positive in them, which we can not see at that point in time.

My mother says that cancer was the best thing that happened to her, but she never thought about it this way when doctors broke the news to her. But her treatment brought us closer as a family and helped clear a lot of doubts and misconceptions about many different people. It also made her see her priorities clearly as death was staring her in the face. It was only from her faith in God that she could gather the courage to fight cancer and emerge victorious, and three times at that. Similarly, we might not always be able to see the good coming our way in the future during a mishap or a disaster. We just have to keep our faith alive to be ready for whatever future riches life has in store for us.

As Steve Jobs said in his famous Stanford commencement speech, it is impossible to connect the ‘dots‘ looking forward. You can only connect the dots looking backwards. And so, in times of crises, it is very important to have faith that the dots will somehow connect in the future. The faith and trust could be in your destiny, God, life, karma or whatever.

For me, life was kind of shallow all those years I had lost faith. Each setback used to seem like a big conspiracy against me. And as humans, it is very easy to get into this mindset. And we only end up destroying our chances of future successes by holding on to these so-called setbacks. In Hindi, there is a popular saying, “Jo Hota Hai Achhe Ke Liye Hi Hota Hai“.. Now I realize it is not without reason we keep on hearing it so often from our elders.

How my biggest strength was stopping me from achieving results?

Time Management and prioritizing things have always been one of my biggest strength. First, as a student, and later as a professional, I have always tried to be ahead of time, and plan things in advance. I can’t remember how it started, maybe I just inherited this from my parents or my knack of doing something ‘extra‘ always made me manage my time properly. However, in the last one year, I have realized how this strength of mine has stopped me in achieving more and better results, and what I had to do to not let this strength become a barrier.

The earliest example of time management in my life came from my parents. I still remember my mother used to wake me up at 6 AM every morning while I was 7-8 years old and how my parents made me study for 30 mins every morning before leaving for school. The same used to continue after coming back from school with homework in the afternoon, some playtime in the evening followed by one hour of TV at night. I think the same planning of time carried on when I went to college in Jaipur and later when I started my career at Noida.

Now, as a student, and as a professional who was just starting his career, most of the work I did was individual in nature. It means I had the responsibility of doing something on my own, and I always enjoyed it as I was good at prioritizing and scheduling my time. Most of the success I tasted at work was primarily because of my ability to manage my time and schedule. All this was going well till I started handling the 99acres tech team. This moved me into a leadership role for the first time and I was responsible for the work of the whole team, and it was a team job rather than an individual job.

Are your strengths becoming your weakness?

Are your strengths becoming your weakness?

During that one year in Noida, I found that I made good friends and had a good relationship with people who were good in their work and finished their tasks timely. On the other hand, I felt anger and frustration whenever someone was unable to complete their work timely. I started treating both sets of people differently. In other words, I enjoyed working with people who shared the same traits of time management and resented working with whom ‘I considered‘ poor performers. At that time, however, I was totally unaware that this was stopping me from achieving more results.

Only in the last one year, when I have taken some projects in the social space, like Waste Management and Anti-Corruption, that I have realized how my biggest strength was stopping me from achieving results. As my work grew from personal to interacting with people and teams, it was obvious (not to me 😉 ) that there would be differences in the way people think and work. Different people will be good at different skills, and for the success of any task or project, it is very important to leverage the complementary skills of people so that the output is bigger than the sum of its parts. Instead, what I was doing is aligning people with same sets of strengths and weaknesses together, making the project difficult and more prone to failure.

When I finally realized that how easily I used to get worried and upset when somebody did not replied in time, or doesn’t do what I expected him/her to do, I made a conscious effort not to let this become a show-stopper for the project, and for me. It was not easy in the beginning, as I was more concerned with somebody not replying in time rather than thinking about the project as a whole. The day I stopped seeing this behavior as ‘it should not be happening‘, life became a lot easier and I realized how this way of being has impacted my previous projects too.

Once I realized this, I started building systems, structures and processes that provide necessary help to the people to empower them so that delays can be avoided, or their impact be cushioned at best. This helped in creating a win-win scenario with the team working together with each member contributing in his/her own way and without any resentment, worries, etc. There is still a long way to go for me in this area, and I think the best learning will come when I encounter such situations in future, and how I choose to react to them.