6 things that I learnt from a devastating accident

I share here about my experiences from a devastating accident in which I almost lost three fingers, and what I have learned from this miracle ordeal.

Three years ago, it was late Sunday evening of January, when I met with a freak yet devastating accident. As I was working on a 12,000 RPM rotary metal cutting tool, a momentary lapse of attention and I severed my three fingers on the right hand.

This jolted my family and threw life out of gear. With three small beautiful children and a family that is dependent, an entrepreneurial journey and a whole life ahead, a useless right hand, was the last thing one would want on.

By the time I was wheeled into A&E, the situation was grave, and more than one hospital in the area refused admission as they did not have the doctor on call over that weekend. It was a weekend night and Bangalore roads were choked with heavy traffic.

The Two-Wheeler Ride To Eternity:

And clutching the tree dismembered fingers of my right hand tightly with the left. here I was with riding pillion on a two-wheeler, and my wife the ‘ambulance’ driver. The blood loss was significant as the body gushed out blood to the fingers. Here sitting in the pillion, the one thing on my mind was to keep myself awake, come what may and not become unconscious and fall off. I hugged my feet to the sides of the scooter, much like how you would on a horse and kept talking to my wife, lest i fall asleep. The
notorious city’s traffic was not helping and a good 30-40 minutes later, and what seemed like an eternity, we reach a hospital that would admit us.

What happened during that ride was nothing short of awakening and rebirth.

What happened during that ride was nothing short of awakening and rebirth. My mind was filled with both doubt and acceptance, on what-if, and how I will live with just a thumb and little finer for the rest of my life. A billion thoughts crisscrossed my mind. Would this be the end of me? Will I be accepted in this world? How will I have an opportunity to pursue my hobbies and passions for which I came back to India? How will I do as an entrepreneur? Would this end of my professional life forever?

The Surgery And The Recovery

It was an intense 4-5-hour surgery under general anaesthesia, and I remained drugged, for hours after that. I still remember the light banter in the Operation Theatre with the surgeon. He informed that he would need me to sign the consent form, as he said, “….we can save one finger, be ready to lose two of them, but definitely we will try to save the second one”. This was before the General Anaesthesia and I replied, “Doc, without those three fingers I cannot sign. How about you are fixing them and then I can have the form signed in no-time.” After a good guffaw, they got the consent form signed by my wife, who was there through out the phase not sleeping a wink.  

Cut forward to 6 weeks later – As we went for the removal of cast and stitches, my doctor was awed and euphoric – for, this recovery was beyond all his expectation. He mentioned I was ‘one big lucky man‘; While I was relieved, I knew deep within, that the hundreds of prayers and positive energy from many well-wishers and the doctor’s dedication would not go waste.

And all that was backed by rock-solid backbone by wife and children, strong support of family, prayers, blessings and encouragement of many many friends. Over the next few months – life had ‘raced back’ to normalcy – in 6-8 weeks, much earlier than the then expected 6-12 months.

I was welcomed from the hospital with a cake, and the little ones were more excited to see me, than to have a piece of that cake.

I was welcomed from the hospital with a cake, and the little ones were more excited to see me, than to have a piece of that cake.
I was welcomed from the hospital with a cake, and the little ones were more excited to see me, than to have a piece of that cake.

I have learned a lot in those few months and unlearned many more. It indeed was a rebirth. With many cobwebs in the mind removed, and the mind knows what is important in life. In retrospect, this was the best exerience in my life, yet. Couldn’t have been luckier to have this experience.

Here’s a summary of the five most important things that I’ve learned:

1.  Love And Respect:

Throughout the adventurous journey, the one thing I realised was the importance of having the love and respect of family, whom you could always depend on. My parents-in-law were all the time and my parents flew in from Dubai almost immediately on hearing this. With that confidence of the support of my family and friends, I would sail through this life. I was also fortunate to have support in form of many hundreds of telephone calls, WhatsApp enquiries from all corners of the world. Many of them dropped by for a visit. Words of encouragement, flower bouquets courier packages with holy water, ashes and prasadams (similar to holy water, in form of solid or liquid) from holy places were pouring in.

2.  Acceptance:

Within minutes of the accident, and immediately after the shock, I had mentally prepared to accept whatever cards, life throws at me. If it means, living with just thumb and the little finger, I was ready for a life the way it is dished out to me.

3.  Gratitude:

Gratitude was the most important of all the learnings. Through the process of long recuperation, I was filled with immense gratitude for all the amazing things that life had to offer. I was grateful for all that so many people have done for me. Through the countless solitary moments, I thanked thousands of people, yes thousands of people. I could vividly remember the faces of the many persons that I had encountered in life since childhood. And, I would believe that act alone was the single biggest contributor to my miracle recovery, a record of sorts.

Let alone not losing any of the fingers as the doctor had said, the recovery was much lesser than six-twelve months, I was ready and kicking and six weeks. In fact, just a day after the bandages removed and even without physiotherapy I went ahead and did what I love to do – an 800 km Road trip, more than half-which I was at the wheel.

I could vividly remember the faces of the many persons that I had encountered in life since childhood.

4.  Law Of Attraction:

If there is one important thing other than gratitude, mentioned earlier it is the law of attraction. Much I was accepting each day for what it was, I was not willing to let go of the optimist in me and the fighter in me. Each day, I would visualise miraculous healing and see the senior surgeon tell us that he was amazed at the speed of recovery.

5.  Amazing Adaptability Of Human Body:

Through my journey, I was able to be aware and observe amazing aspects of the internal workings of the human body. The experience of ‘electric shocks’ from nerve endings as they try to heal, regrow and reconnect to the nervous system, the incredible way in which my left hand took over seamlessly much like a doubles partner; to compensate for my every weakness. The reflexes had dramatically improved, to say the least. Never in my entire life, I would have experienced such a level of alertness and strong reflexes .

6.  Mindfulness, Dramatic Increase In IQ Tests

Here, I’m going to speak about something incredible that happened and is beyond imagination. This was more of an unintended consequence, serendipity if you may, for what you are about to hear is not something even I foresaw in my wildest dreams.

I am a regular player of online brain games like Lumosity. After that break of about 6 to 8 weeks, scores consistently surged way higher than any of previous high scores. Not believing this magical twist, I went and took 20 -30 different brain tests. The scores were consistently 30-70% higher than my earlier high scores. On further research, I learnt that sudden use of left-hand for the considerable amount of time helped activate the other half of the brain.

Today, I am so grateful to people around me, my life, and the universe. When I play badminton, play with children, pick up those weights in the gym, or do that 10,000 km road trip – and all of them are still a bit of effort, none-the-less – not a day passes without feeling how lucky life has been.

Aspire to be a CEO: Add fuel to the fire!

Making an impact is a good thing. To leave a mark is a good thing.
However in this destructive goal pursuit of ‘leaving a mark’ and ‘making an impact’ managers often reverse their predecessors decision and change things just to ‘leave a mark’ and ‘make an impact’.
Successful CEOs from Jack Welch to Lou Gerstener, did change a zillion things. They did make an impact. But they did retain one characteristic – they encouraged good things.
If you find good things – however dull, old or tried – just add fuel to it. catalyse more of it. Not every success is about solving a problem, or doing a turnaround. The sole financial objective of a company is to give significant returns to its shareholders.
You do this by finding and filling your customers needs. If you customers love it – do not change it. Do not change the labels, the ingredients, the name, price, advertising or anything else.
IBM understood the power of its eight bar logo and its brand name. Coke understood the power of its ingredients. The Disney company understands the value of Mickey Mouse. P&G is never tired of telling people that Ivory soap is “99 and 44/100 per cent pure”. And they did it for fifty, seventy, hundred years.
Don’t change the formula for success – Add fuel to the fire!

#LeadershipLesson: Follow the footsteps of your Boss!

‘Boss Bitching’ is a fad. An entertaining one, at that; though not the right one to take you to the top.
All of us have heard people who can just complain and complain about their bosses – just give them an opportunity and they can rattle the worst things about their twenty-seven bosses through career. They  share horrifying stories about their tyrannical and incompetent bosses, that have reached the top while leaving these people in the lurch. Such sad stories are for losers.
Winners do not have tyrannical bosses. They have fantastic bosses and amazing supervisors.
Just as most people can vividly remember their memorable teachers and their teachings from kindergarten to Graduate school, the same applies to business. Winners do remember learning from their bosses.
They know, that most people do not have a choice on hiring their bosses. But they do have a choice of learning the good qualities from them. They know, that nobody is perfect, and every body is good at something. Winners learn, study, emulate the good things from their boss – whoever they are.
Great teachings from superiors are subtle, yet significant—they praise properly, they are fair goal setters, they are honest, they  let people grow. There may have their idiosyncrasies and whims – but great bosses are usually hard working, smart and open minded.
Seek those people early in you career. Seek people with those qualities. Work for them. Watch them closely. see how they handle problems and handle criticism. Note how they manage people and get things done.
Walk their way!,

Watch this space – Landing a DREAM job…..

Close on the launch of the series -“Aspire to be a CEO: …” series, we are now starting another parallel series -“Landing a DREAM job, not any job…”
Thank you all for the great support – feedback, tweets and retweets.
Today’s workplace is super competitive and lot more dynamic. There are more and more awesome jobs; yet it is harder than ever to land one of them. The rules are changing by the day and in most cases, “the job application” process has just remained the way it was in my grand dad’s times
The rules in the “Landing a dream job, not any job…” series may sound a bit iconoclastic, to a few. The idea is not to make you a rebel. It is to set you thinking.

· Think if your current conformist approach is really helping you get what you want.
· Would you personally believe (leave out the crowd thinking) doing something different help.
· What would you do, if any, that you would differentiate yourself?

This is not about the usual stuff. We are not talking about being average and mediocre here, are we?
Watch out this space!