Management Talk: The key to motivation

The place where I live has an excellent jogging track. There are also places where you can sit and enjoy the breeze, or meet friends for a chat. There is a particular place in the corner where a group of elderly ladies meet every day. For some time now, I have observed them follow a particular set of tasks' some light exercises, some songs in chorus and a kind of chant where through actions and small steps, they tell themselves ''I am beautiful', 'I am healthy', 'I am strong', and other such pos

11 Mar 2016 | By Suresh Ramakrishnan

Then I heard them for the first time, I was kind of amused. Now, every evening, when I go for jogging, I expect to see them. I expect to hear their chanting. And they don’t disappoint. I haven’t seen the ladies miss even a single session.

What keeps them going? Maybe the collective spirit, the oneness of purpose, or the reassurance that there is something in them that they should be proud of?

My father, who spent most of his career in the main operations section (way back in the 80s and 90s) in the Indian Railways, explained to me how engine drivers progress in their careers.

Usually, you join as a cargo train driver. You are then screened based on your patience and perseverance to drive along corridors only at select hours. There are several stops and it can be frustrating at times when clearance is not given for a couple of days. You then graduate to a passenger train (shorter distance, stops at every station and mostly half-day journeys). It’s the first time you are exposed to carrying passengers, where sensitivity and security are top priorities.

Then you go one step higher to become an express train driver. There are limited stops but here, the sense of time is important over and above what you have learnt before. There are stretches where you can pick up speed, but discipline is the key. The highest category is a mail train driver.

You earn respect every time you pass a level, and the sense of duty ingrained in you through all levels helps you respect the one important thing that the trains used to transport at that time – the Indian Postal Service letters, parcels and money orders.

Not so long ago, I saw a documentary on how certain specialised and trained personnel brave rough weather and treacherous seas to go fishing for a particular variety of crab. In such situations, the height of waves and the torrential rain is life-threatening. There is also the possibility of the trawler capsizing, leading to fatalities. It may not be everybody’s idea of a job, but here is the catch: Yes, one good haul and a trip that may last several days or a month in the rough sea is enough to fund your living throughout the year. Is it worth it? Some people would say, yes. First, because there would only be a handful of people worthy of being on that trawler and secondly, it pays well.

So, here are some of the keys that I gathered.

A sense of purpose: This is always the starting point. There has to be a goal; something in the distance which, if you achieve, would give you a sense of accomplishment.

A team helps: It’s good to be surrounded by people who push each other, and form a bridge to scale difficulties.

Rewards: It need not be monetary all the time. You have to be made to feel important in what you do. Psychological satisfaction is a huge boost.

Challenges: There have to be plenty; everyone loves to pass tests.

There are more. I am sure you will discover some of them yourselves, and when you do, please let me know.

Suresh Ramakrishnan is the publisher at Haymarket Media (India).