Whether we realise it or not, life has many wonderful opportunities, but we have to be open to possibilities. In fact, we become what we think about most. Ones thoughts are always with one and repeating themselves in ones brain, they encourage one either to take action or remain inactive. This is the essence of the book. In the book, the writer tells the story of his career and teaches us the lessons he has drawn from his experiences. He started as a naughty marine engineering cadet, was rusticated for ragging, went to sea and came ashore at a comparatively young age to have an adventurous corporate career in shipping. That included hazardous years in Iran before and after the Revolution. The writer could well have continued as a corporate man but instead he took the grave risk of founding his own shipping company. There were times when he found himself sailing through choppy waters but he weathered the storms, expanded into other areas, and is now executive chairman of his Foresight Group. At the time of writing it has a total asset value of five hundred million dollars. What’s more, as you can see from the cover, he’s done all that with a smile on his face.
The 192-page book is divided in ten chapters. And the lesson from which one can learn the most perhaps is its ‘positive discontentment’. The chapter states that remain positive but discontented with what you achieve, it will keep you aiming even higher, a sure way to keep the fire burning in your belly. The writer’s discontent is positive because it is the opposite of the negative discontent of jealousy. So often people spoil their own successes by being jealous of those who seem to have achieved even more. For them the grass on the other side of the fence is always greener. They can always find someone who is richer than they are, or more famous. Men, to judge by their actions, deem riches and fame two of the highest goods. The problem is that men are never satisfied with them. The book cites Hindu law giver Manu as saying something similar: “Desire is never satisfied by the enjoyment of the objects of desire; it grows more and more as does the fire to which fuel is added.” The writer highlights wealth is a bonus, a byproduct of ones journey, but not ones goal. He says that ones true goal should be the enjoyment of the challenge and achieving ones ambition. Therein lies true satisfaction.
The book emphasises that the happiness of any organisation for which one is responsible is important too. It says employees should be treated as members of a family. As a boss he makes sure he is approachable and social. That seems to be an advice which is all too often ignored by modern managers and directors. When the cult of a very narrowly defined efficiency becomes too powerful, staff becomes merely units of production rather than invaluable assets. When management consultants become too influential, the voice of experience, people who know about shipping, steel-manufacturing, railways, or airlines will not be heard.
In fact, the need to find a balance seems to be the underlying fact of all that the writer has learnt. Balance your work and your recreation, and the time you spend with your family. Be prepared to take risks, but don’t be foolhardy. Take the opportunities that come your way, but don’t be forever restless, looking for new opportunities. Don’t get in a rut, but don’t flit from job to job, as so many in today’s corporate world do. The book brilliantly brings out the confluence of the two worlds–East and West. This book has something to give for everyone who reads it.
By Ashok Kumar