Our editor-in-chief, Swathi Chatrapathy, was invited to give a TEDx talk a few months ago. Swathi was very interested in talking about how someone should see the work. She was very concerned about some fundamental mistakes people seemed to be making in their careers.
Your thoughts are fresh, insightful, and full of practicality. S.wathi talks about what it means to make your work your identity (it's a new thought), why the “why” of work is even more important and finally she goes into the much discussed work-life balance and finds you own understanding of it.
It's a 17 minute video, but you can't let go for even a minute. Swathi's stories to illustrate her observations fill the entire talk.
Click here to watch the video on Youtube.
Below is a full script of the TEDx talk
First of all, I would like to show you a picture of my office.
This is one of my offices. I call it my office because it is part of my job. I sit here and talk to our team members, discussing the work, the problems we face and how to solve them. Some of our discussions have had far-reaching consequences for our work and for trekking.
This is just one of my offices.
I want to show you a picture of my other office.
This is my office too. My permanent office in Bangalore. Here I sit at a desk, work on a laptop, have working hours, the whole range.
I shuffle back and forth between the office and the mountains and have learned a few lessons about how to look at work.
And hopefully by the end of my testimony you will see the work as I see it.
Let me introduce you first.
I am Swathi Chatrapathy. I lead the digital team at Indiahikes, where we are doing an exceptional job defining the future of trekking in our country. I don't know if you know, but Indiahikes is the pioneering trekking organization in our country. It is also the largest trekking organization.
I use the word "exceptional" because trekking is basically from one place to another. It is the first thing humanity learned. In 2020 we will define the future of trekking. We explore new ways and set standards in terms of safety, sustainability and even empirical learning. And we've been doing that for ten years!
I also have a youtube show called Walk with Swathiwhere I dive deep into the trekking world, share trails, tips and trekking conversations. It is India's most popular trekking canal.
I also write a column every Thursday sharing opinions and news from the world of hiking. I've been writing this column for three years. Over 100,000 people subscribe to this column.
Through my work, I have been fortunate to learn from the great outdoors and from a heritage organization.
And I thought I'd take this time to share three of my greatest lessons with you.
Right before I started this job 5 years ago, I was looking for a job. I had just quit my job with a well-known newspaper and was looking for something that would occupy me, adapt my skills and help me make money.
It was a coincidence that I came across Indiahikes. A friend of mine went on a hike in the Himalayas and raved about the organization she went with. She told me that they have a website with great content and that they might be looking for content authors.
And so it happened. Indiahikes was five years old at the time. Somehow, with my writing skills and possibly more convincing skills, I took the job and started working there
My first few months at work were full of confusion in my head.
Confusion from not knowing what to do at work. I knew my way around content writing but was completely new to the trekking world. Nobody told me what tasks to do, not the founders, not my seniors. Instead, they gave me a specific vision to work towards and told me to take responsibility and grow my own work.
I was confused. This was very different from what I was told in my previous job.
In my previous job, my editor had told me exactly what to do every day. Write one story a day. Edit one page a day. She either accepted my stories or scrapped them. There was no in between.
I couldn't understand this ambiguity.
But within three months of starting my job, something happened that completely changed my approach to work.
I did my first himalayan hike.
Like any beginner in the Himalayas, I was taken in by the mountains. We camp in the wilderness, I could see snow-capped peaks at a touching distance. It was surreal!
The hike went well until I reached the top of the hike.
An early morning view of Chandrashila peak. Image by Bharghavi N.
When I reached the top, I had a few minutes to myself. There was a small shrine upstairs. I sat next to the shrine and looked at all the great mountains in the distance.
And for no reason I started crying.
In all honesty, I felt silly. Because I felt good physically, I felt spiritually fulfilled, I was going to come such a long way! And yet I cried. This was absolutely inappropriate. Where did these thoughts and feelings come from?
When I heard footsteps behind me, I quickly wiped away my tears. I couldn't show myself to anyone like that.
But that moment still stays with me.
It was my first insight into how powerful a hike can be. It had affected my mind, body, and spirit. And it had a similar effect on all of my fellow hikers. I could see it in their conversation and behavior. The hike had touched her deeply.
And then I understood what one of our visions was. It was easy to get people hiking. No matter where, when or with whom. But easy to hike because hiking is such an impactful journey. It can change your life.
After I understood the vision, my entire approach to my work changed. I knew exactly what to do.
And that's how I learned my first lesson, how to look at work.
It was just the opposite of what I had been doing all along. I had done my daily chores blindly and didn't understand Why I did what I did.
At Indiahikes it took me months to understand that Why. It also took a lot of conversation, a lot of questions, and experiencing the vision itself to understand why.
And I find that this time around, most people don't give up their jobs and try to understand that Why. They start to believe that their organization doesn't have one Why.
But the truth is, every organization has one Why. Whether a start-up or a large MNC. Without a reason Whythe organization would not exist.
In my case, as soon as I mineWhy & # 39;I could see clearly what I had to do. I had to walk forward.
S.oon after my return to Bangalore, with mine Why clear in my head I started a video show. In my show I talked about trekking trails in the Himalayas. I would show hikers how to hike, where to hike and share tips.
We did this consistently for months. Sure enough, the show was growing in popularity among trekkers. Hikers across the country used the videos as a guide. It was something that didn't exist in this world.
Two years later, I was on my way to another hike when I was learning my next lesson about looking at work.
It was an overnight train from Delhi to Dehradun and I was soundly asleep.
It was early in the morning when I heard someone whisper my name. I thought I was dreaming. But when I realized it was real and reminded myself that I was on a sleeper train, I woke up in shock!
A young lady whispered my name.
She said to me, “Hello Swathi! I've seen your videos. I'm on my way to base camp for my first hike and your videos have helped me prepare so well for my hike. Many thanks!"
With exactly this sentence she disappeared and got off the train.
I didn't know how to react. Of course, I was delighted that someone recognized me.
What impressed me, however, was that she identified me with my work. She knew I was Swathi from the trekking videos. Swathi from Indiahikes.
Little did I know then that this was the first of the many recognitions to come.
I would always think this is such a niche world only a handful could watch the videos. And yet I was so wrong.
People have identified me in so many places. The airport, the train station, restaurants, the streets, my own apartment, even people on hiking trails in the middle of nowhere.
They all came up to me and said, "Hey, you are Swathi from the trekking videos, right?"
It was embarrassing, yet overwhelming, to be recognized for my work.
And it taught me a great lesson.
Making my work my identity gave me a certain drive that I've never had before. I suddenly started thinking about how to improve my work and make a bigger impact. That made me more ambitious.
And the more I thought about it, the more meaningful it became to me.
I thought of the most successful CEOs and COOs in the world. Sheryl Sandberg, Satya Nadella and Sundar Pichai. Everyone has made their work their identity.
Even here, when I look at other TEDx speakers who are here, they are known and identified by their work.
And I'm telling you, you don't have to be in an area where exposure is easy, like writing or filmmaking. Even as a tech geek or an architect sitting in your office, you can make your work your identity. The best way to do this is to get very good at your job.
It takes time, but that identity is growing. You identify with your job first, then you get better at it. Then your own organization identifies you with work, and eventually the bigger world around you begins to identify you through your work.
And that's exactly what drives your career. And that identity makes you a person to be reckoned with.
However, achieving this identity takes time and effort.
W.With all the time and effort that went into my work, many of my colleagues began to bring this thought about work-life balance into my head. Which is what I would like to cover in my third study.
All my friends swore by it! They had very strictly separated their personal life from their work life.
And I struggled to do that because my work made a huge difference to my personal life.
And then something happened that gave me my answers.
I was in Mysore to attend a wedding. And the wedding took place on a Thursday.
As I mentioned earlier, I write a weekly column every Thursday.
So I had to send a mailer that Thursday.
That meant I had to write the mailer, proofread it, put it in our email management tool, test the email, and send it out. And I had to do everything before 2 p.m.
Luckily I had my laptop with me. So I sat typing away and occasionally looked up to greet relatives. Every now and then I would have a little chat with people. My sister, husband, and cousins floated around me, keeping me company, and sometimes teasing me for working at a wedding.
After a while I noticed something strange! All of these people who teased me about my job offered to help me. My sister helped me find my mail better. My husband read it. My cousin tested the mailer. It's like they almost took over my job!
As I watched them, I realized how well they knew about my job and how much they were involved in my work life. They had been part of my 5 year journey at every step. And they loved my work as much as I did!
At that point, my doubts about the compatibility of work and family disappeared.
I realized that the concept of work-life balance was badly misunderstood.
The stronger the integration, the healthier your life becomes.
Just as my family had helped me with my work, my mentors and colleagues at work also emphasized the importance of having a quality personal life. You have constantly pushed me to live a healthy, fit, and enriched life.
This lovely exchange of work and life made my life so much healthier. And I can't imagine work-life balance any other way.
Which brings me to my conclusion
For the past five years I've tried to analyze how you look at work.
And these are three of the biggest lessons I've learned.
First, once you get that Why, Your life gains meaning. You find meaning in your work.
Second, when you make your job your identity, you get ambitious. You keep getting better. Very soon you will be recognized not only in your workplace but also outside of your work area.
And finally, when you achieve a collaborative work-life balance, your life becomes much healthier. Work is no longer tedious. It is a love work.