Integration – Math Concept or a Working Style?

Wake up – Call – Sign – Sleep – Repeat!

Imagine living this routine every day for 3 months! Checking your phone as soon as you wake up to ensure you haven’t missed any important emails. Having an elaborate to-do list that just keeps increasing as the day goes by…

Well, this was me for an entire year. When you feel passionate about something, life finds a way to give you an opportunity to learn more. I got this opportunity when I was chosen to lead the Student Entrepreneurship Cell of my college. It was a great responsibility to induce, inculcate, and preserve the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation in an institute with a very high placement rate! The students have impactful ideas but the real challenge we dealt with was converting these ideas into their enterprises. We organized events, workshops, talks, and competitions throughout the year. Two months before college started, our team had our own academic calendar marked with our planned activities. 

As the Secretary, I lead a team of 15 core team members who then lead a team of 75 students from across courses and specializations. Keeping the E-Cell’s legacy, as our flagship event, we organized a pan Maharashtra event called Pune Startup Fest 2020! Those 2 days were magnificent and magical. It is now a milestone in my life, something I will always carry in my heart. But, reaching there, the journey is of a higher value to me because it helped me uncover my leadership qualities. 

I had read and heard enough about the difference between a leader and a boss! I had to be mindful of what I said and did all the time. I wasn’t perfect but I had to keep learning from my mistakes. With zero experience of leading such a large team and the responsibility of representing the college in front of ten thousand people plus the entire city of Pune, there were times when the journey was not smooth. There were times when I felt weak in my knees due to exhaustion. I had to break my comfort zone and cross mental barriers on a daily basis. 

I overcame my need for always being liked by everyone and learned to say no and put a full stop. I started taking responsibility for someone else’s mistake and completing someone else’s to-do list simply because we were a team. I also stopped explicitly mentioning my team, my accomplishments, my victory, and started saying our team, our accomplishments, and our victory. 

This is when I realized what true leadership is. It can’t be developed, it should be experienced, it should be LIVED.

This whole episode from my life brought forth three important learnings for me. 

  1. The hurdles and hardships I faced was actually the process of a caterpillar coming out of its cocoon to upgrade itself into a butterfly, it’s life’s next phase.
  2. When there is a collaboration of work in a hierarchical working format, by default its representation is like a pyramid. Perhaps the working methods of the leader changes with teams, but the underlying framework is the same.  Work allocation, updates, feedback and, sense of ownership and responsibility – all these aspects can be mapped in the same pyramid. 
  3. The entire year’s achievements would not have been possible without the entire team. We had divided everyone’s roles, domains, and responsibilities. Irrespective of how much each one of us contributed, the final result was because of everyone’s efforts together! The absence of anyone in the team would have resulted in a different outcome. 

It was like the concept of Integration in mathematics. The first-ever definition of integration I recall understanding is: Integration is basically the summation of many small values under given conditions (limits). 

The addition of everyone’s individual efforts made the final product!

I was a math topper in the 10th grade! First in my family to get a 95/100 in mathematics. But in the 11th grade, they introduced calculus; I put in a tremendous effort to understand it but by the end of the year, I concluded that integration was not my scene! Somehow, I gave my 12th board exams and secured an average score. While taking admission to an engineering college, I was warned that the basis of the degree was my grasp of mathematical concepts. I was confident that I would find a way and thus signed up for B.Tech in Information Technology. I am currently in my Final Year, and I am still not sure how I got here. In the examination season, my dreams are frequently haunted by math formulae and the Maths department building. 

And here I am now, relating integration to a real-world experience I had.

I joined the Enterprise India Fellowship as a Partner to be the change I want to see in the world. One of my current projects is working with a team to revamp the social media outreach for a Udaipur based company. The team consists of a few fellow partners, our mentors, and members of the company including the head! The project revolves around  3 C’s: communication, collaboration, and constructive feedback! The amalgamation of corporate culture and the learning curve of this project brought about a new form of leadership to my attention. 

This is something I hadn’t heard or seen before: The Star Leadership

We had no hierarchy system. Everyone was in the project to learn and implement. The roadmap designed required us to execute multiple processes and techniques. There was no designated leader, therefore, we took it upon ourselves to take charge of a certain task. Each one of us broke our comfort zones, learned a new skill, dug deeper into our already existing skills, and became a leader whenever needed. In other circumstances, this would sound like a recipe for disaster but here in the Dharohar team, it came organically to everyone without mentioning it.  It is one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had. To top it all, given the world pandemic crisis, we executed this project completely online and this method of working has transitioned us from team to “fam” in just a month’s time. This feeling took us months to achieve while I was in E-cell. We gathered sheets and sheets of data, analyzed it, processed it, and presented it. Here too, I could see how well we set up an integration of the work process. While making a post, one member would ideate, one would design, one would word it perfectly and one would check and post. Almost like a factory line up. 

Mathematics never came easy to me. It’s a beautiful and well-designed medium for knowledge but math and I don’t get along. I have almost survived it through engineering, and now I am seeing it everywhere around me while working. This has made me reach one conclusion – no knowledge is ever wasted. 

When you try escaping from something, life enjoys sending it in your path again and again – like a boomerang. Math has kept challenging me, both in and out of the classroom! I would have never imagined how math could help me get a deeper perspective of my experiences! This isn’t the perfect relationship between an engineer and mathematics but then again what does perfect even mean?

Originally published at Enterprise Indian Fellowship on 20th August, 2020

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