Failures [2/3] : Haath Jhaado, Knees Jhaado Aur Chalo

by | Feb 27, 2022

Having bid a fond au revoir to the beautiful dream of a city that is London, I came back to India. London had been good to me during my yearlong sojourn for my MA Degree there. Since then, I have been working as a project manager in a non for profit organisation that is based in Kolkata. We are an art based organisation and we use applied theatre to work in the social and rural development spaces. I have now been working with this organisation for more than a year and a half. Before this job, I had worked for a couple of years before going for my masters so I had extremely limited work experience. when I joined my new organisation, I knew that I would be in the program team and will be working under someone way more experienced than me. This was not the case …

I clearly remember the day when I was speaking to my boss after having joined. He was telling me about the work that I will be part of and about the new project and his vison regarding it. Before I could say anything, he said to me “Rohan, you will be the lead on this project and will be working as the Project Manager.” It took me a while to fully grasp what he had said to me. “Right Sir.” I said in a military like tone. “I just need a while to process this information.” 

I walked out of the room and went out of the office; I found a rock on the side of the road and sat down. Then it dawned upon me that the dream organisation where I wanted to work was appointing me as the new project manager. You my friend will now be working directly under the director and would be the second person in charge in the organisational hierarchy,  I said to myself. This was what I had come here for. The stage is set for me to give my best and learn everything I can and at the same time lead my team and not let me boss down. This gave me the determination that I will work hard and live up to the expectations of the designation. There was little or no scope for failure as far as I was concerned but then again what is education and growth without a pin called failure to burst your balloon. Something similar happened with me as well.

There was one week where there were a lot of things that were simultaneously happening in our office. There was a training with a new batch that was happening and there was a lot of other logistical work that me and my team were involved in. This was reasonably stressful for us and especially for me. I also got a mail form our donors saying that they will be coming for a routine review visit in the next week. This new was expected but the timing of it caught me off guard. “Sir, what do we do? Are we ready for the donor visit?” My boss looked at me with a look in his eyes which spoke more than words. He said, “Rohan this is a big deal for you, are you up for it?” In my head I was ready for it; all the ground work had been done and I had done everything on my part to report to them. 

Finally, D-Day was upon us. I was feeling powerful and optimistic. I had a feeling that no matter what happens nothing can go wrong today. I will nail this meeting. I spoke to my partner and she gave me the strength and belief that nothing will go wrong and the donors and my boss will be impressed with the work that I have done. My happiness was short lived … the review of the work was a huge failure.

From my end the work was at par and what they had expected it to be but the problem was with what my team had done. There were differences between the work that I had done and that my team had done. All said and done the meeting and the review was a failure. This pushed me down and I was feeling depressed. I walked out of the room angry and furious with the way my team had performed. What is the meaning this? Why could you not have cross checked the reports and shared it with me once before showing it in the meeting. I had been asking you for it for so long so that if there was anything that needed to be changed in the reports it could be done BEFORE the donors saw it and not AFTER. Do you realise how bad this makes me look in front of the donors. After lunch I had a meeting, just the donors my boss and me. I spoke to the donors and gave them every reason in the book possible as to how it was my team’s shortcoming that led to this situation and how I was at par with my work. This one thought is the reason why I failed that day in the meeting.

The thought of putting the blame on my team and saving myself. The thought that if I have done my bit and played my role then all is well and everything is a success. This I came to realise was the misconception that I was living under.

After the meeting, they sat me down and had a one on one. They could probably see what was going on in my head. And given the amount of experience that I have in the sector and as a team leader/manager they gave me some advice. They spoke to me at length about the structure of any organisation and what the role of a manager is. The conversation shed light on how important it is for a good leader to be a team player and as they say, take one for the team. There was a lot that I learnt form my failure and how the gyan I had gotten on that day has helped me to become a better leader and a better manager. There has been a lot that has happened in the organisation since that day and there is a lot of growth that I have seen in me and in my team. 

I will end with a small incident from my childhood when I was learning how to walk and would fall and look at my parent/s for support. My mother would just say one thing to me and that has stuck on with me since then and has been a motto for me every time I have failed and have had to restart and move forward. She used to say, “koi baat nahi kuch nahi hua … haath jhaado knees jhaado aur chalo … you can do it”

Rohan, second row from below in the centre with his co-fellows in a team during the fellowship

*** Feature image link –

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