Good Morning! (Yawn)

So here is a post about my favourite topic (not). And since it is 9 am right now when I’m writing it, I think it is fair to say that it will not be earth shattering. To put it very bluntly, I am not a morning person. I resent the alarm, I often feel like my entire sleep has been ruined just because I woke up to the sound of the alarm. As if I would wake up singing if my eyes opened up naturally every morning; I rather doubt it. And there is this inexplicable thing that happens where on some days I feel perfectly refreshed with the sleep I’ve had while on other days it feels like mornings are the pit of hell. I don’t like coffee or tea in the morning so I guess there is nothing really that helps enhance the mood. Then there are days like today when my eyes open up unusually early for absolutely no reason. So I decided to see if I could figure out a little bit more about this strange phenomenon but because my brains are addled in the morning, I couldn’t do much meaningful research. But nevertheless, read some inspiring posts here and here. And rounded it off with one of my  favourite morning recharge music. Have a happy weekend!

Cheers!

Routine and it’s friends

The word ‘routine’ comes from the word ‘route’. So sometimes, just changing your route can give you a refreshing break from your routine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of routine. As a child I was quite averse to change of any kind and even though I eventually learnt to embrace the good in any situation, I reveled in the comfort of routine. I still do in fact. And by routine I don’t necessarily mean those that lead to high productivity; there are enough routines in the world that we fall into that do not benefit us in any way. They are commonly referred to as ruts. So spending the entire weekend doing nothing but binge watching TV shows and movies and ordering food is an example of a bad routine. But I digress. So sometimes by literally, physically changing your route, you get a new perspective of life or a situation. Sometimes this change of route can be inspired by a conversation or something you read. But most of the time serendipity doesn’t exactly strike, so we need to have a mechanism for ourselves to know when to break from routine even if for a single evening. I tried that today and found myself taking a long walk and then settling down at a cafe to research and write. After a while, on a whim I decided to try another cafe and treated myself to a delicious bacon and egg sandwich. As I sit here in the glow of lamplight, enjoying the soft music and writing this, I feel a sense of contentment. I wouldn’t choose to do this everyday but I liked it today and that’s what matters. And I hope I remember this feeling so that pretty soon I want to do this again. 

But I should know, as should you, that routine has a few sly friends who like to gang up on us. Apathy is one of them; we don’t even know it’s there – working behind the scenes – till the day comes when we find ourselves exhausted from it. So watch out for this one. It’s typical symptoms include a weird disinterest in all things good or bad, and a general sense of being bogged down. The next one is the all time favourite: laziness. Bad enough though it is by itself, when combined with apathy it can become crippling. I don’t need to define this one; if even the thought of wearing your shoes, let alone going for a walk makes you shudder, you’ve got a bad case of laziness. Ironically, the cure to both is actually to get moving and do something but it’s one of those inexplicably vicious cycles of life. The last one is my personal favourite, the future self syndrome. OK I made up the term but the concept exists. It’s the idea that your future self, be it a day in the future or years ahead will do all the things you cannot do today. But the beauty of this lies in the fact that the future is a mirage. The moment you arrive there it becomes the present and the more presents we waste, the fewer we have left to anything in. So I guess our forefathers had it right when they said we must seize the day. Carpe diem indeed. Let’s drink to that.

Cheers!

What I tell people when they ask me what I do in HR

I watched a TED talk a while back by language historian Anne Curzon where she tells an amusing story in the beginning. She says that when she is at a dinner party and people find out her profession, they usually have one of two reactions; they either (a) get really frightened because they think she will spot every mistake they might make or (b) their eyes light up because they want to tell her about everything they think is wrong with the English language. It is a hilarious and interesting talk and I would highly recommend watching it here. But there is something about this anecdote that resonated with me. Whenever I introduce myself, outside of my workplace, as a Human Resources Professional, I usually get asked one of two questions. It is either, “So that means you are a recruiter?” or “So that means you don’t have much work, do you?”. Now the first question makes me sigh in tiredness but the second one just pisses me off but we’ll get to that later. Let’s focus on the first question for a minute.

There was a time when the human resources department did little more than process payroll and shuffle paperwork and we have come such a long way since then but it still irks me the everyone still thinks its only about the most visible aspect of the function. At this point I must note that recruitment is an extremely crucial step in the entire employee life cycle and I have a tremendous amount of respect for recruiters. In fact, sometimes I wish I was a recruiter so that I could just answer the first question with a resounding yes and then we would move on to more interesting topics not involving work. But I’m not so I usually have to come up with some sort of explanation of the work that I do which more often than not leaves the person mildly baffled and they drop the subject (hurrah!). In recent months, I have amused myself by coming up with some unconventional answers, let’s say. If you plan to read on, please keep an open mind :). So here are some of my explanations:

  • I’m like a janitor, I clean up messes when they need cleaning up. I can’t take complete credit for this one as it was inspired by the movie, Michael Clayton but I love this the most as it is guaranteed to leave someone completely baffled if I do not expound further.
  • I talk to people all day long. Another head scratcher, this either invites more questions or leads to aforementioned baffled silence
  • I’m happy to spend the next two hours telling you about my work. Would you like that? This elicits a nervous laugh and then an immediate change of topic.
  • I’m an HR Evangelist. There is such a thing although I’m not one but I just get a kick seeing the stunned expression and the internal battle waging in someone’s head to decide whether to ask or not.
  • I issue a lot of letters. This one isn’t too creative and usually gets a knowing nod as it is very much in keeping with people’s expectations from the HR department. Disappointing.
  • I’m an HR Generalist. This is the truth and if I choose to use this one, I usually have a lot of follow up questions to answer about what it means.

However amusing this may be, it got me thinking. Why is it so hard to communicate about the work that we do? It should be possible to explain every aspect of HR in it’s simplest form so as not to frighten or baffle anyone but just make them ‘get it’. We really need more people to better understand what goes on and in that way we can get their genuine opinions and perspectives on the subject which will vastly improve matters for everyone. I’m going to ponder on that for a while and see what I can come up with.

Until then,

Cheers!

A streak of pink in the blue sky

I refuse to click pictures on vacations. Well sometimes I don’t have a choice because the alternative is my mom pouting and telling me that I’m no fun. But whenever I can manage, I choose not to click any. I’ve been asked often enough, how else will you remember them when you’re old? Well I’d like to rely on my superhuman memory but then I decided that a word picture would do just as well as a picture.

So here’s what I was doing last weekend. 30 of us piled into 2 vans on a Friday night and headed off into the unknown. I only say unknown because I didn’t bother to read the itinerary. If I’m going on vacation, I’m not going to think about details, someone else has to take care of it. Anyway, it took pretty much the entire night to reach said unknown destination. The further away we got from the city, the more blissful I felt. I read my book, slept some and just enjoyed catching snippets of people’s conversations in the dark of the van. Reaching the sleepy port, eating breakfast in a ramshackle old hut and piling into the two boats just helped to rev up the anticipation. Once on the water and you knew vacation was on. We dumped our stuff on the first island and it was back on the boat to head to the ones we were going to spend the entire days exploring. I think a seat on the boat (albeit uncomfortable) was better than any seat in the best theatre of the world. The vista of the cerulean blue ocean spreading out in every direction (isn’t it funny how we humans always think we’re at the centre of everything) while the breeze played on your face (and stole your hat) and the sun shined it brightest (sunscreen!); nothing quite beats that feeling. Each island that we went to had something unique to offer along with a guaranteed spectacular view that took your breath away. Swimming, lazing, sleeping, exploring, drinking coconut water and just letting yourself be were the things on that agenda. And once we had our fill of one island, it was back on the boat to head to the next one. It was anything but repetitive and it was a day well spent. Reaching back to the first island just as the sun was setting, there was a scramble to get the tents set up before darkness claimed us. Shower and dinner done and it was time for drinks around the bonfire on the beach. Needless to say hilarity ensued and a pleasantly lazy evening was spent. As the fire died down and the evening grew cooler, I found myself looking up at the stars and letting my thoughts drift to my favourite topics to think about when I have disconnected. A happy few hours went by followed by a precious few hours of sleep and a 10 point hangover on the Richter scale. In the morning I discovered that swimming helps cure hangovers and then I was informed that any exercise does (sigh, why can’t smelling flowers cure hangovers). A lazy morning and lunch later, we were back on the boat and headed to the mainland. The vacation seemed to slowly ebb away as the shadows lengthened and we got closer to the city. But just as all but the last ray of sunlight had disappeared, I looked up to see a bright streak of pink in the brilliantly blue sky and I just thought it was the perfect end to the perfect weekend….