18th June, 2001, Troy, MI, USA
I got a call from dad as I stepped out of the headquarters of Oxford Automotive Inc. I got worried as it was an odd time for him to call- it was way past midnight in India. He sounded nervous and said mom was unwell and that I should return by first available flight. I had numerous meetings lined up during the balance six days of my business trip to US. I called up KLM and rescheduled my return flight to home in India the same night.
Oxford Automotive at that time was amongst the largest OEM manufacturer of auto components. The company was vendor to all major automobile companies like General Motors, Ford, DiamlerChrysler, Isuzu, Nissan etc. and had an annual turnover exceeding a billion US dollars and a workforce of nearly 7000. It had 41 factories across Canada, Europe, South America and Asia-Pacific region. After months of meetings and negotiations, we had decided to set up a factory in India in 50-50 equity joint venture. It was to be their first foray in India. Plant, machinery and technology were to come from Oxford. We were a small company of only 40 people. This was a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity for us and would’ve pushed us into the big league of auto component manufacturing. It also meant huge investments from us to match the 50% share. I will have put on stake nearly all the wealth and assets that me and my family owned and maybe more. I had just signed the Memorandum of Understanding and the new company formation documents when the fateful call from dad came. All my excitement and happiness of bagging the deal vanished and my mood turned grim and nervous.
Dad and wife were there to pick me up from Delhi airport. On way home, they told me about mom’s condition. She had been detected with Breast cancer which was in an advanced stage. Cancer, even today is a dreadful disease. Imagine how painful and fearful I must’ve felt 19 years ago. When I reached home, I hugged my mom and started crying. She was just 51. Next two weeks passed by consulting doctors, specialists and getting various tests and investigations done. My usual question to all the doctors I met was ‘how long she had’. The most optimistic answer I got was one year max.
As her treatment started, I sent email to Oxford explaining the situation I was in. I told them that I would not be able to work on the project during the treatment of my mother. The project will have to be postponed till my mother gets well which I estimated to be one year. Meanwhile, if they want they could go ahead with the project with a new partner. Oxford, very graciously, agreed to wait.
Fast forward to June 2002. Mom had her surgery, chemo and radiations and was convalescing well. Meanwhile September 11 happened in New York plunging the US economy into despair. Oxford Automotive filed for Chapter 11 and became bankrupt.
Just a year ago, the events of June 2001 were so stressful and painful for me. Every moment I would ask God- why me? My mom was in her last stages of life and the best opportunity of my career growth had to be put on hold. Those were the most depressing times of my life. And now, when I look back at those events, I realize that this was probably God’s way of stopping me to put up the venture with Oxford. If I had gone ahead with the project, I would probably have lost everything and become bankrupt. From that moment onwards I became a firm believer of what why Grandfather always used to say जो होता है सब अच्छे के लिए होता है.( Whatever happens, happens for good).
Life is full of many different types of negative situations and twists and turns, which keep us unsettled and stressed at times. Stress is primarily caused by too many whys, whats, whens and hows, which are questions in our minds. The effect of thoughts on our physical health is well established. A large number of diseases today are psychosomatic, which means persistent negative emotions like stress, anger, hurt, mistrust, manifest in the form of disease. Focus on happiness, forgiveness, acceptance, trust. As you will increase your inner strength and faith, you will become stable, peaceful and happy.
Accept a higher power. You may or may not believe in God. But still, you have to believe in something. You just have to. Something bigger than us. Something bigger than we can even comprehend. There is an anchor in our life called Faith. You will realize, you have so little control over most of the things happening around you or to you. You only control how you react to the situation. You have to believe that there is a deeper purpose behind your suffering. The point of this belief is some ways to override the mind. This technique changes our attitudes and feelings, which influences positively the situation as well as how others respond.
At this point in life I have more or less learned to manage stress. I never bring work issues to home. I exercise often, rest enough and eat clean. I never let my stress accumulate. If your stress accumulates it will lead to anxiety, lack of motivation, depression, fatigue. Stress reduction is a must for a healthy you. Prefer to choose Trust over doubt, co-operation over competition, appreciation over criticism, health over disease. Spend some time on meditation. Detoxification of the mind begins the process of detoxification of the body. Be relaxed throughout the day in your every interaction. Whenever stress levels increase, focus on your breathing. With each breath, remain mindful, ease your state of mind. Think of a strength with each inhalation, think of a weakness in yourself with each exhalation. Inhale peace, exhale stress, inhale faith, exhale fear. Avoid auto pilot reactions. You will swim across the tough and painful times easily. Trust me, You will relatively remain calm, relaxed and stress Free. And this is the first step to lead a Fit life.