Courage Under Fire

Before I begin writing anything, I would like to put a small disclaimer here. Please don’t expect a direction, a moral, a conclusion or a happy ending in this article. I wrote many paragraphs individually and put them together under one heading - something that just sounded cool and with nothing more to it.

I was 17 when I first left home. That was in 2002 when I joined RVCE, Bangalore. Engineering and hostel life do change a person. After staying in Bangalore for four years, I found my way here. There were phases in engineering and there is a fair share here in MBA as well. I landed here on 13th June, a day after my college exams got over. I had packed up all my stuff in five large bags and simply left from Bangalore. I was out alone here in Pune. On 14th I walked into the auditorium, and I was simply overwhelmed. There was a lot happening around and I had joined a day late. One day means a lot, especially when groups start forming within a few hours of reaching a new place.

There was a weird exuberance all around. Each one of us wanted to make it big in the corporate world. The world was ours for the taking and we were just being fed with all the management jargon right from day one. There was a lot we heard, a lot on the various streams in MBA and so on. What they did not share with us was a dream, a dream that would change the way we thought about life and career. What was told to us was rightfully delivered. I thank SIBM for that, but I was left wanting for more.

Subjects after subjects were poured on us. I swallowed and spit them after exams; I am not sure about others. I steadily believed that all that was taught was useless and we were missing the bigger picture. What would separate us from the MBA brat pack?


There is one thing that I did learn at SIBM. And that’s how to be street smart, and be the best at it. I remember by guide (during summers) told me once (incidentally, he is a pass out from SCMHRD, 2001); ‘SIBM grads are the best when it comes to getting the work done’. No respite, no talk, just plain good ol’ solid work. If something needs to get done, he might as well have a SIBMite do it. He knows for a fact that it will get done. Now that’s what we are good at. And that’s the way it should be. Every b-school claims to follow the latest curriculum, have the best faculty, facilities and so on. But there is one thing SIBM is; it truly is the birthplace of smart managers, those of course who get the work done. But we need to go beyond that.

SIBM claims to be the birthplace of business leaders. So what’s been done to make us leaders? And what separates a leader from the rest of the brat pack? What I do know is that winners don’t necessarily make good leaders. Call it the winner’s curse, but the fact remains that they are so used to winning that, they cannot handle failure - of any kind. When you are responsible for people other than yourself, sacrifices and compromises have to be made. Battles must be lost to win the war. You are never a leader until you’ve lost.

It takes a lot of courage to step up to the job, to be unattached to everything else. Knowing that fingers would be pointed, enemies would be strengthened; and friends would be lost along the way. I call it courage under fire. A leader does what has to be done, no questions asked. He isn’t gifted with the luxury of being confused about his prerogatives. His decisions might prove to be unproductive initially but the fact that he was the one who had the stomach to do what nobody else around could makes him stand out as the leader.

As we walk into corporate corridors, one can’t help but wonder how we would perform compared to our peers. It’s been a great run here at SIBM. Life was comfortable. Made some good friends. My stint at SIBM is almost over, and I am asking myself a lot of questions. Would I be able to stand up to the challenge? Would I be able to take the responsibility of my failures with as much bravado as my successes? How will it be when I join work? Will it be more competitive when I join work? Perhaps only time would tell. Until then I just wish I get to learn along the way what stuff true leaders are made of!

A Path Ahead

This post was published in the SIBM Yearbook for the batch of 2008. I would like to thank Niladri Shekhar Das for lending words for the posts, and given it a great depth.

22 Responses

  1. angana Says:

    amazing clarity of thoughts and expression! wonderful post :) cheers to SIBMites!

  2. vinni Says:

    thanks angana! its only comments which keep a blogger going! especially for a blog like mine not supported by ads!

  3. Ps Says:

    Lovely post.
    “He/She isn’t gifted with the luxury of being confused about his prerogatives. His decisions might prove to be unproductive initially but the fact that he was the one who had the stomach to do what nobody else around could makes him stand out as the leader.”

    I must add though that i felt the same way when i was expecting my first child!:P

  4. Ritu Says:

    Beautiful post Vinni… I ask myself all the same questions even after being in the workforce for over 10 years… As you grow in your experiences you understand that the more u experience, the more u grow… My process is still ‘ON’…

  5. Enigma Says:

    Humm, nice post…ya only time can tell everything and life at work will b different as days go by..i just still the carefree yrs and my friends

  6. vinni Says:

    thanks a lot guys! i loved writing this post. it brought out everything i had to say, on what i have been doing for the last two years.

  7. meghnak Says:

    Hi vinni,
    I’m surprised how clearly you depict your thoughts by simple words! Yes, only time can tel….

  8. Sachin Says:

    Good post………..
    best of luck !!!

  9. vinni Says:

    thanks mate! would need it!

  10. sam Says:

    Nice post. Let me tell you something…. wen i started my professional sojourn back in 2005, i was hazy to begin with. I had no idea what was expected of me, or in fact, what i was getting myself into. But then, the step had to be taken. I chose to be a aoftware pro…
    I learnt along the way.. but still i want more!!
    The point is.. the learning curve never stops… it carries one… you wud learn along the way… through success and failures… you’ll learn… the trick is to apply what you learn and be effective!!!
    no point in being efficient if you are not effective!!

    and always remember what Drucker said:
    “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

    take care

  11. Prats Says:

    I believe this is the best post I have read coming from you. Not because it has been amazingly written which it is, but for the sheer connect I can feel with whatever you have written.
    I can tell you one thing, the questions you are asking is what you got from SIBM and MBA but trust me answer would take a life time. There are a lot of times where you get faced by choices; which stay beyond the Integral calculus and the moral sciences of the world. They do not have the perfectly right and the wrong answers, They are just choices no right and wrong answers but unforsseable consequences which might change your life. At that point it matters, when you take a step back closely see the situation follow your heart and mind and go ahead no matter what I will get it done.

    Cheers SIBM, and Cheers to SIBM spirit.

  12. vishesh Says:

    ha…well another year before i begin my college life…

  13. Archana Says:

    waiting to experience the same :)

    Has to be a marketing guy ;) hehhe

  14. Niladri Says:

    Thanx 4 tat acknowledgement buddy!!!
    I see Ps makes a comment where she has quoted some lines which I wrote. Good to see that they invoked the same feeling albeit the reason’s completely different!
    Nice post… You have put my ‘Courage Under Fire’ into a perspective here…

  15. Nikhil Narayanan Says:

    Way to go!!
    No looking back dude!!!

    You will go places.
    Good luck!!


  16. vinni Says:

    thanks da! thanks a lot for ur wishes!

  17. Vaishnavi Says:

    Beautiful post,simple,lucid ..says all it intends to say.

    “Would I be able to stand up to the challenge? Would I be able to take the responsibility of my failures with as much bravado as my successes”

    This is a question I keep asking myself day in day out…:)
    Converted SCMHRD. ..:0


  18. vinni Says:

    hey vaishnavi! congrats on getting into SCMHRD! great going!

  19. Arun Says:

    Nice post. And good luck for u’r corporate life!

  20. jumpa Says:

    nice post macha … I am sure u will come up trumps

  21. vinni Says:

    Thanks a lot, all of you! Your wishes mean a lot to me. Now is time, for a new post! work underway!

  22. Gayatri Says:

    There was an amazing clarity in the way this was penned. Didn’t seem like random paragraphs put together at all.. Lovely!

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