Life is short

As a fresh consultant at McKinsey, for the first time in my life, I had to go around seeking time for meetings with clients or senior leaders at the Firm.

Prior to that, while serving as the Police Commissioner, if I wanted to speak with someone, I had to just pick up the phone and say the name of the person. After a short while, there would be a beep, and typically my assistant would have the person on the phone line.

Naturally, all this gets into your head and you get used to having your way. It made me, I suspect, a bit entitled.

But after my MBA, when I joined McKinsey, I no longer had that luxury.

And when I sought time for meetings, the clients or their secretaries would sometimes play hardball. They would say, “The calendar is chock-a-block – no slots are available.” But I learned how to get them to somehow say yes, no matter how busy they were. I learned how to be nice, yet persistent.

For me, it was a great lesson in humility, which I hope I never forget.

Over the years, I have learned that nobody is ‘big’ or ‘small’ – everybody is important. In the right situation, anybody can be powerful.

Just treat everyone nicely and be respectful, and they will often respect you back. And if someone is arrogant, don’t take it to heart – someday, everybody learns their lesson.

Life is short. We can’t afford to waste it on petty things like arrogance and self-importance.

– Rajan

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