Acknowledgement of inadequacy is the first step of learning !!

This post has been long pending.

It has been 10 months since my move to the Silicon Valley here in California, and I must say it has been quite a ride. I came to this place with very high expectations and I have been lucky to work in a city that fuels entrepreneurial spirit in the midst of extremely talented folks, and in a region of great technological innovations. My work has been steady, and there is something new to do everyday. The prospect of gaining an understanding of a skill you do not possess motivates me to report to work everyday. Having a great set of colleagues, who are close friends outside of work, makes a lot of difference. I have had a lot of time for introspection and self-evaluation. Looking at the wealth of experience, knowledge and skill around me I feel inadequate. I feel the need to improve on a daily basis to stay relevant and to matter. This is actually a good thing. I am not saying one person can possibly learn and acquire the vast breadth of knowledge there is. I only ask to make an effort. The realization that you lack certain capabilities is the first step to actual learning. Only if you acknowledge that you are inadequate will you feel the need to take steps to correct it. I was witness to the effort I mentioned earlier in front of my very eyes. The amount of hard work a close personal friend of mine put in his job hunt had no parallel. His steadfast dedication was inspiring to say the least. Clearly there were inadequacies he identified in himself, and he was committed to burning the midnight oil in ensuring he cleared them one by one.

Working in the development of a product right from scratch fresh out of graduate school in a highly quality driven work environment among a passionate set of people sure does keeps you on your toes. Passion is something that is intrinsic to the Valley. Among my numerous interactions with youngsters (I’m 25. Can I be a youngster? :D ) and adults alike, they all seem determined to make it big. They believe in the “American Dream”. I cannot deny the fact considering I am living the dream as well. I find that passion acts as a catalyst towards the task of overcoming one’s inadequacy. The one major reason I am excited to report to work everyday is the realization that my Manager is going to throw a problem at me that would require me to learn something new. The truth that the task is challenging makes sure I learn, understand and eventually execute it successfully. Once that is done, it becomes a part of my body of knowledge that I have earned. This has not only helped me groom into a better professional but also ensured that my growth is inclusive. The team gets the benefit of mentoring their youngest member (Me :D), and I get the benefit of having a strong support system at work.

My learning has not stopped. I realize how less I know and how much harder I need to work to get satisfied professionally. However, the sad truth is that in a universe with infinite knowledge, I will never be able to know even 0.1% of it. I leave you with this memorable quote from “The Big Bang Theory” between the eccentric genius Dr.Sheldon Cooper and the lovable Penny that signifies even physicists have it tough in this world :) :

Sheldon: I’m a physicist. I have a working knowledge of the entire universe and everything it contains.
Penny: Who’s Radiohead?
Sheldon: [after twitching for a moment] I have a working knowledge of the important things.

I guess we all will say “I have a working knowledge of the important things” later in life just to make ourselves feel better :) .

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