The road taken!

Image of the word learning typed on paper

By Anant Maheshwari, President for Microsoft Corporation (India) Pvt. Ltd.

Profile photo of Microsoft India President Anant MaheshwariIt’s late on a mid-week night before we enter the final moments of 2020, and I’m looking through a long, very long, list of words submitted by Microsoft employees. We had asked our teams to sum up the past year in a single word, and the responses came in thick and fast. Some describe loss, anxiety, and bewilderment. Others touch upon coping mechanisms, hobbies, and lessons learned. And more refer to the silver linings of 2020 – hope, courage, heroism, gratitude, selflessness, and sacrifice. Our capacity as people for optimism and resilience is remarkable!

It’s safe to say that 2020 will be a chapter in our lives that we cannot forget. More importantly, we should not forget.

My word for 2020 is “LEARNING.” We learned, we adapted, then discovered something new and had to restart the cycle of learning and adapting. I’d like to share some of my lessons:

The first is Learning. It’s not a choice. I’ve said this more times than I can remember. But this year, I experienced it at a very fundamental level. Like many of us who are privileged enough to keep working with the power of technology to manage the interruptions, I’ve had to unlearn and relearn the most basic rules of living, working, and communicating. I remembered how difficult learning could be when you are under pressure and with little time. But I also remembered how rewarding it is, how it ignites creativity, passion, and underscores commitment. This is the one ‘taken’ road that must be taken again and again.

My second lesson is about Trust. When the chips are down, we tend to trust more, not less. Our customers and partners trusted us with their truth and their struggles more often this year, and to keep their businesses running despite the unprecedented pressure we put on technology. And, we found new ways to trust and use technology to serve much larger purposes.

The third lesson is that empathy is often a willingness to try. To try and see a different perspective, try and understand an experience you’ve not had. To try and accommodate a seemingly impossible ask. The keyword is ‘try.’ And I’ve found that trying goes a long way.

And finally, I’ve learnt just how strong a sense of purpose can be. The pandemic united the planet in the common purpose to save humanity. It translated into the countless acts of selflessness and courage of our front line workers and the smaller deeds of kindness and generosity we hear of every day around us. At Microsoft we aim to empower every person and every organization to achieve more in the pursuit of their purpose.

In retrospect, none of these lessons are new. Or something I did not know before. But this year, I had to put learning into practice under very unusual circumstances. Learning has been central to my year, as it has been for most of us. What did you learn this year? What are the lessons you are unlikely to forget? I’d love to hear your point of view.

Let me close by thanking you for helping me learn this year. I wish you and your loved ones a very Happy New Year!

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