Mornings

“Good morning, Sir,” the guard touched his cap as he greeted Jake, the regional manager.

Suited up with pointed shoes, he clutched his laptop bag as he strode along the campus pathway towards the open doors. What a great way to start the day, he though to himself as a second guard paid him a salute. He’s only been at the company a few months, but he’d already garnered the respect of all the men in guard duty. He couldn’t even enter the office without five to seven men acknowledging his dry-cleaned coat and trim beard.

Glowing in pride at himself, Jake approached the office doors. He pulled out his phone even before he’d stepped in, checking for views and comments on his latest Instagram story. His mind was already whirring with an idea for the next one.

Jake didn’t notice the security at the reception, who stood up to greet him a good morning and remained standing until Jake had walked passed him. Stifling a yawn, the security took his seat again looking forward to the end of his shift—sleep and home beckoned him dear.

Arriving at his destination, face alight by his smartphone’s brightness, Jake set the bag on his desk and fell back on his chair. He leaned behind in comfort, now scrolling through his Facebook feed, smiling every once a while at a cat video or a child’s tantrum over cereal. Then throwing a swift glance at the large clock on wall, he plopped his polished feet on the chair next to him.

He was early—according to the office timekeeper, he still had seven minutes before official hours began. As he scrolled on, someone else strolled in. In a black suit and pointed shoes, holding a laptop case, stood before Jake, his manager. Jumping to his feet, stumbling as his shoelace caught on the chair’s armrest, Jake stood up, perspiring. “Good—good morning, Sir”

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The why of writing

“So I heard you have a habit of writing every day?”

That’s the clear winner if there’s ever a contest for the silliest thing you can ask a writer.

And yet it still confounds many that a writer would, after all, write. Although I can see how the confusion arises, it’s surprising that we’re now part of a society where corporate copywriters aren’t writers in real life.

It all started with a colleague who raised their eyebrows as I admitted to writing every day. They couldn’t understand the reason. Why would I spend an hour or so every morning writing, before I started work which was also—writing?

As I stood there, stumped, I realised I didn’t have a ready-made answer. No, it wasn’t because “I love writing” or because “I’ve always imagined myself a writer” or because “I don’t know anything else.” Although those statements ring true in many ways, it’s also true that they’re resumé answers—something you’d say to impress a potential employer into giving you the job.

I have different reasons.

For one, it was my writing habit that landed me a career as a copywriter. And despite writing countless types of pieces at work, I still don’t write what I want, the way I want. And for a good reason, too, because a corporate copywriter shouldn’t possess a powerful personal tone that disrupts the business’s tone. Therefore everything I write depends on the company, its offering, and audience. When I come home after a day of such scrutinised writing, all I can think of is work. Not only do I don’t have time for myself, but my thoughts revolve around work as well. The mind goes around in circles in constant debate and debacle—”perhaps I should’ve used a better title for the blog, or added a banner image, or tweeted it out with a GIF.”

Dabble in this long enough, and you’ll wane. A writer who’s lost the ability to expand beyond work isn’t far from losing the ability to write altogether.

Consider those who write only emails all day. They become accomplished at conveying their purpose in an email, but when asked to write something different—a comment on social media, a guest blog, a webpage, or even a catchy advertisement—they’d crumble under pressure. The reason? They no longer have the creative spark to think outside email jargon.

A full-time copywriter isn’t any better. The longer they seep in familiar territory, the more comfortable they become. They get used to using certain phrases and styles and avoiding others that don’t sit well with the business they write for. And it’s often already too late when they realise they’d forgotten how it feels to come up with something unconventional. When a writer foregoes the spine-tingling sensation that results from framing an excellent metaphor, or the jubilance that emanates from dropping a witty pun, a writer ceases to exist. What remains is the shell of a person who can create ideal corporate content.

That’s why I write every day—to keep the chaos within alive. I don’t write flawless pieces in my blog. I don’t put forth impeccable grammatical sentences or distinguished vocabulary. What I do write, instead, is random thoughts, scribblings, and haiku—all the things that help me remember why I still write.

Let’s forget

Forgetfulness gets a bad reputation.

Of course, loss of memory is a bad thing and no one should say otherwise. However, for the last couple of days, I’ve been fiddling with the idea of mindful forgetfulness.

The more I think about it, the more I feel its validity. When we’re conscious of what we want to forget, we forget memories that aren’t worth clinging to anymore. Like a bitter breakup, an embarrassing presentation at work, an ungrateful argument with family… all those incidents that we wish had never happened will fade away when we choose to forget.

But even as I write that, I know it’s not just about forgetting. Humans don’t forget the bad things so soon. In fact, we sometimes may never forget, letting it rot inside our mind, poisoning our being, and making us more miserable than we deserve to be.

That’s why we should forgive.

We should forgive ourselves for the mistakes we’ve made. And forgive others who’ve wronged us. Because once we forgive, it won’t affect us anymore. When we forgive ourselves for messing up the presentation at work, we set ourselves free of the bitter memory. We’ll work harder next time, and not let the failure hang over our heads as a threat.

This way, we are free from harrowing thoughts, and our lives will fill up with positive energy. With the negativity gone, we’ll have more time and willingness to remember what matters most to us and cherish the small things in life.

Perhaps mindful forgetfulness isn’t so bad after all.

– – – – – –

Thanks for the muse, Kumud Ajmani and #SpiritChat.

On creativity

Creativity isn’t a solo job. Think about it—writers, painters, sculptors, chefs, card makers, weavers, and craft makers all fall into the small business category. They’re all creatives at heart, and by job, trying to earn through their craft. Regardless of how alone they are in making their craft, when it comes to doing anything with what they make—refining it, marketing it, distributing it, and selling it, they need partnerships. They need others who can think in the same creative manner so they can do their part in the process.

And so, while a writer creates the first draft of their next greatest creative piece, an editor or a proof reader guides them through to the next draft. And during that process, they brainstorm, discuss variations, consider alternative titles, and work together to create the perfect piece of copy. Writing a book is no solo job.

Once the piece takes shape comes marketing and distribution. Think of a painting for example—the artist is proud of it, their teacher and mentor is satisfied, and they even got a few ideas and compliments from their contemporaries. The next step would be to promote it so more people can appreciate it. That’s no solo job either.

As for the marketing, distribution, and sales teams, they can’t work in traditional methods. If they’re to market, distribute, and sell a creative piece of work, they need to conceptualise newer, innovative ways to do their job. That takes a lot of creativity. A bottle of Coca Cola is just an unhealthy beverage. But by relating it to happiness, to sharing, to being wanted and accepted, the company’s writers, designers, marketers, and distributors all contributed their share of creativity. And they did it together.

Without the designer and copywriter collaborating with each other, a print ad wouldn’t have perfect alignment.

Without the copywriter and editorial teams collaborating, the ad copy wouldn’t ring as great as it could.

Without the sales and marketing teams collaborating, Coca Cola wouldn’t exist today as we know it.

Creativity isn’t a solo job. A multi-national conglomerate or an indie seller, to create anything worthwhile, everyone needs another’s streak of creativity.

Power to the right people

With great power comes great responsibility.

Whoever says Spiderman is for kids doesn’t know the reality of the world. As far as I can tell, that quote from the Marvel world of fantasy is one of the truest statements about our society.

When someone has power over others, it’s their responsibility to exercise that power in a way that benefits all parties. But the biggest hurdle in leadership is that there’re two kinds of people in power.

One, the vain kind that craves the spotlight, the extra commissions, and bargains that come with being a leader.

They have no respect for their team, they abuse their authority for personal gains, and they revel in self-absorbed obsession. Such leaders are worms in the organisation—they nibble their way through cracks, widen communication gaps, isolate people, and think themselves an impeccable leader.

The second is kinder. Society thrusts power onto them, and they have no choice but to accept. Apart from feeling it’s unwarranted, they also get scared. It’s only natural. However, that’s what makes them good leaders. Regardless of the few who fail unable to handle the demands of the role, great leaders rise to the occasion to do what they must.

Situational leaders who struggle at first to delegate, inspire, and guide others, will not long afterwards learn by doing, evolve through mistakes, and shine through the darkness.

It won’t happen overnight, though. As with any good thing, leaders need time to achieve their potential. No one can step out of college and walk into a managerial role in an organisation. Those who do that, those who think a fancy degree is all it takes to be a successful leader, in turn become snobbish, detestable, namesake leaders who no one looks up to.

A leader who climbs their way through the organisation—from being a team player, to becoming a mentor, and then becoming a leader—will understand the nuances of a leadership role and the importance of humility. That makes them all-serving decision makers who prioritise the greater good before anything else.

And that’s a powerful leader.