• Priya Venkatesan

What's the cost, Thomson?


“I don’t want to sacrifice, I am not Mahatma Gandhi.”

These were the words I uttered to my mentor in 2003.

My organisation then had started a Mentor-Mentee program.

I could choose my mentor out of a pool of people who volunteered.

I scrolled through a list of people & chose a person whose experience was 1.2 times my age.

He was new into the organisation, was respected by everyone & was heading a function .

He had come from an external organisation within the same group of companies. So I thought his “systemisation” will not be complete and may be he could understand where I came from. (Those days I was a rebel, have some steaks even today :-)

I was struggling in a project with unreasonable requirements which according to my understanding was a big mistake to enter into. So I needed someone to listen to me & not say - 'this is the way it is done here.'


Been a sticker of time, I went to his workspace 10 mins early and stood outside his cabin in a place that he could not see me so that I don’t disturb him ahead of time. It was a glass cabin and I could see him working.

At 8:59AM, I saw him get up from his seat and come & stand next to the door ( ya the freaky door of the cabin had access card enabled and no one could enter without access.) So I walked to the door and he welcomed me with a smile, offered me a seat and a glass of water.


I didn’t realise when twenty minutes out of the 30 minutes meeting was over with my non-stop ranting.

He listened to me patiently and told me this. Priya, As a mentor I can be your sounding board / your mirror. After hearing you, I have only one question -


What are you willing to sacrifice?

“I came here to work, not to sacrifice. I am not Mahatma Gandhi.”

That was my retort - I felt very let down.


**He told me - we all have to. But we do have a choice on what to sacrifice.

He asked me to go back and decide what cost are I am willing to pay to have the career that I want.


That question stayed with me for a couple of days. I though through what was non-negotiable and what can be sacrificed. I developed crystal clarity on my road ahead, made couple of decisions that worked for me and I never looked back.


Fast forward, 19 years later, I meet a lot of ambitious people whom I coach. There is nothing wrong in being ambitious.

Sometimes I find them very disappointed with the pace of life. Something is not happening for them.

What is not happening is not outside - its in their head. They are stuck in Outcome Vs Cost battle.

While they love the outcome, they are not willing to unlearn, learn, change, experiment and do all that is need to get there. They are unwilling to acknowledge that aspiring for an outcome might mean they have to take an opportunity sacrificing family time or they need to hold back and look after their family. It’s unglamorous.

When you are staring at important goals in your life, ponder on,


When you are saying yes to that goal, what are you saying no to? ~The Coaching habit


If you are aiming for leaps in your career, what are you sacrificing to reach there? Is that sacrifice aligned to your values? Are you willing to pay the cost?


If you don't opt for a promotion to spend time with your family, what opportunities are you saying no to?


If you make peace with the cost, you will get there faster.


What are you unconsciously saying no to everyday? Is it health, is it family time or is it new opportunities?

PS: **Written with gratitude to all my mentors who got me here!

#executivecoaching #cost #ambition #leadershipcoaching







33 views

Recent Posts

See All