The team orientation started on the second day (Sunday, Feb 26, 2017) after the IBM team arrived from different parts of the world to the city of Indore in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh (MP). The Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), India team arrived from Delhi to start the orientation and make the IBM as well as the VSO members a high performing team.

The VSO programs chair, Praveen, started the session with an ice-breaker game to introduce everyone to each other and then challenged everyone to get to know your inner self. He asked everyone to write 4-5 milestones of life. For me, it wasn’t hard to list the milestones as I had always believed in setting up objectives for my ultimate goal in life – to die in peace, knowing that I have done everything that I ever wanted to do! Below are the six milestones I listed and the status on whether they have been completed, ongoing or started yet:

Milestones:

  1. Getting good education and a job. This was the first milestone that needed to be completed before I could start on the others. It is shown as the bottom of the pyramid (Physiological needs) as per the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow’s_hierarchy_of_needs) I have completed my graduation in Computer Science and MBA, getting jobs in the top technology companies and can mark it Completed.
  1. Settling in the USA to provide the best possible care and education to the family. While I got the my education and first job in India, I still didn’t feel happy about the Safety and Security of my family. I decided to move to the USA so I feel better in terms of the security, education and future of my family. I married right after my college graduation and have settled in Virginia with my wife and two kids now. I have a great circle of friends with different types of personal values and beliefs and consider myself lucky to have this diversity in friendships. I believe this objective is Completed now, it corresponds to the second and third needs on the Maslow model – Safety, Love & Belongingness.
  2. Spend time with family and stay with kids until they graduate from the college. The work/life balance is a buzzword these days but I truly believe in not sacrificing the family time for achieving materialistic success at work. I always make sure that I spend time with my wife and kids on a daily basis (few exceptions). My ultimate objective in this case is to provide up to college education to my two children and have some financial security so I do not have to “work for money” after 55th It also corresponds to the third need on Maslow model, and an Ongoing task projected to last till 2025.
  3. Be a resident of the planet Earth and travel around the globe. I consider myself a resident of the Earth and do not believe in geographical and political boundaries, which are usually created over time or by the somewhat selfish needs of the ruling class. So far, I have travelled to great places in India, Pakistan, US, Canada and some European countries. I believe in traveling to unique places, enjoying unique sceneries, mountains, lakes, other nature, and human-made wonders. During travel, I try to be local by using local transport, eating local foods and talking to local people to understand the place better. This is an Ongoing milestone and will always be part of my life until I am unable to move, it corresponds to the fourth need on the Maslow model – Esteem.
  4. Always keep reading and learning something new. I have always believed and said, “A person dies when he/she stops leaning” (my quote). This is also an Ongoing milestone until I die, I will always keep on reading new books (on everything), learning about new cultures, and reflecting on personal values and opinions. Like travel, it corresponds to the fourth need on the Maslow model – Esteem.
  5. Do something for the people and community who helped me along the way. I was born and raised in a small village in the state of Punjab, India. While not very educated, my father was very learned and religious person. He had always told me that no matter how successful I become and wherever in the world I go, I should never forget to take care of the community and people who provided me the resources, support, and love to achieve those goals. As a believer in the Sikh faith, we are required to share at least 10% of what we have. This does not have to be the 10% salary, one can share 10% of his/her time or something else that belong to him/her. I have decided to give-back 10 years of my working life on community/volunteer related tasks. I have been involved in various types of volunteer work for the past 12 years, spending about 4 hours per week on things from working in local parks, schools, community, and teaching about the Sikh history, culture, and classic music. Coming to Indore to work on the IBM CSC assignment fit perfectly in this objective and I plan to increase my involvement after this. Ultimately, I want to come back to India after 2025 (my daughter graduates from college) and spend the next 10 years in some community/volunteer work. This is the last milestone and corresponds to the fifth/sixth needs on Maslow’s model – Self-actualization and Self-Transcendence.