A CHAPTER OUT OF MY LIFE: GEMS FROM THE LIVES OF ORDINARY PEOPLE
A book by Mr Salil Agrawal (PGP 1983)
There are extraordinary people and then there are ordinary people. People like you and me. People who are accomplished in their own way and who have had interesting lives. But they are not extraordinary, they are not celebrities. Their stories do not get published even though they are very inspirational. This book brings to you stories from the lives of 19 such wonderful people. All of them are alumni of IIM.
The book has been reviewed by two IIMA alumni, as follows, both of whom have authored a book.
Ajay Sachdeva (PGP 1980), Author of the book – Is Your Mind Really Yours?
The book – a refreshing collection of short life stories penned by nineteen IIM alumni from diverse backgrounds, age groups, professions and businesses provides for an engaging narrative. The stories covered in each of the nineteen chapters are stories of grit and passion, of the relentless pursuit of dreams waiting to unfold, of the unyielding efforts and tenacity of purpose in not giving up despite the curved balls that life invariably throws at one.
The variegated experiences that are articulated with simplicity and honesty, cover interesting real life accounts of the dilemma in making career choices, resolution of conflicting pulls and pressures from family, society and one’s own inner confusions, the struggle to keep afloat under stringent business conditions, re-directing the course of one’s career when one felt some stirrings inside, nudging one to alter the path being tread and so on.
Implicit in the rendition of various life stories are pointers and valuable lessons readers may find striking a chord of resonance.
For instance, to mention only a few,
1. Notwithstanding all the emphasis business schools place on effective planning and goal setting, in the arena of the experienced world, “Life is often what is happening to you whilst you were busy making other plans”
2. Inner satisfaction, in contrast to success (largely defined and imposed by the external environment) is less to do with attaining specific, measurable goals but more to do with doing what you like and liking what you do with passion and joy without any need to be evaluated by others.
3. In its essence, there is no such thing as ‘failure’ in life. Perhaps, this is at best only a mind construct and a self-imposed phenomenon. Perceived differently, failure could actually be a cue or a signal that reflects what is not working for us and what changes or adaptations we need to make to get back into achievement and growth mode – a kind of getting back on track to unleash our full potential.
A very likeable feature of this book is its tone of humility, not sermonizing in its content but one where readers are carried along as the journey of each alumnus unfolds in its narrative.
The book, which has showcased many life changing episodes of some of the writers will be an interesting read, not just for aspiring business management students but perhaps for anyone who is looking to live life in accord with their life’s true callings and pursuing their dreams with unflagging zeal and enthusiasm.
Prashant Yadav (PGP 2002), Author of the book – The Jeera Packer
Everyone has one lesson to share. Actually, everyone has too many lessons to share. Salil’s big idea in this book has been to get nineteen IIM alumni share one each from their lives.
An intriguing premise, even when it was just an electric impulse in Salil’s brain circuits.
Disclaimer: I wrote one of those chapters.
These are nineteen deeply personal stories touching issues like career, fulfilment, entrepreneurship, growing up, inner struggle and life-outlook. The diversity in the contributors’ profiles and topic choices gives the book a rich, lively hue. The story selection seems driven by the impact they had on the writers’ lives, rather than the event being the most spectacular one in their lives.
And that gives the work, its real power. Valuable perspectives that you won’t get anywhere else because these stories aren’t the ones people tell you over cocktails. More like, you go on hillside vacation with the person, sit quietly by the riverside watching the sky, hearing the water and then, on the third day, he begins, “Yeah, that year, those times, this happened …”
The first-person narration and the autobiographical nature of the stories gives it the flavor of experience sharing rather than pedantic wisdom-dispensing, making them more accessible.
It’s kind of, being in the thick, feeling the uncertainties and then the reader herself arriving at the inference.
Easy reading, fast flowing stories and a writing that doesn’t draw attention to itself. Salil does a great job focusing on the impact and import of the stories than burdening them with ostentatiousness. The focus on sharing a significant life experience in a digestible format shines through.
Since there are nineteen writers, the narration style and pace varies a bit from chapter to chapter. However, each story is independent and this variation only enhances the impact. More like rhythm.
A quick breezy read, would recommend it to anyone who wants a quick afternoon read or a short flight companion. Particularly useful for business management students and recent graduates – it gives a glimpse of important issues and decisions people face years, even decades out of IIMs.
A great idea, well executed. Crowdsourced wisdom could be a great source, not just for a book but for a series of them. Congratulations, Salil.
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