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Dear Rahul,

Note: If you think that you don’t fit into the description of the “YOU” that follows, ignore this letter. It’s not meant for you! When you have chosen to ignore it based on this decision, please reconsider for once on my request.

You are not what your school is. You are not what your certificate is. You are not what your guru is. You are not what your company is.

You are what *YOU* are!

When I ask your thoughts on a subject, please do not start by quoting someone else, unless you own the idea! Don’t answer by saying it is so because net-THE-GREATEST-EVER has said this. Don’t make what net-THE-GREATEST-EVER has said as your excuse. There is a lot of background to why net-THE-GREATEST-EVER said that thing. Do you really understand that? Can you give reasons of why you liked a particular thought? Have you experienced the usefulness of that thought? Why don’t we talk about that experience instead of talking on the lines – “It’s good because it is good” or “It’s good because it comes from a person who gives good thoughts”.

You can look smart by quoting great quotes. People would look at you, respect that you have read a lot. But what did *you* gain? Use quotes when you think someone has said what *you* want to say, in a better way, in clear expression, good language etc. But you can not put your thought process on someone else’s shoulders. How many times, have you answered a question on a testing subject with – “This is so because Vipul Kocher has said this…” or ” This is because James Bach has said this…”. My God! Do you understand what you are doing?! Would Vipul Kocher and James Bach like this? They are the people who have been saying don’t become a zombie and that’s exactly what you are doing! You have become their zombie. It’s not how they have reached where they are. They have done this by challenging the system. They have done this by analyzing what was served to them as per the current system of their times. If you really respect your role models, your gurus, your mentors, first thing you need to do is understand & analyze their thoughts, rather than blindly accepting them. That’s the greatest gift you can give to them.

I don’t consider you great because you belong to a great school. The greatness of your school based on its rapport only raises my expectations from you, don’t fall short on that! Similarly, I don’t consider you bad because you come from a school of thought which has been portrayed in bad light wherever I go. Here are some stereotypical statements – “I’m great because I’m from Context Driven School.”, “You are dumb because you are ISTQB certified”. Can’t you belong to Context Driven School and still be a stupid person? Can’t you be ISTQB certified and be a great thinker? If you are against certifications, don’t treat your belonging to Context Driven School ( which is mostly self-confessed one ) as a certificate. If you believe in certifications and you are ISTQB Certified Super-Advanced Test-Evangelist-and-Innovator-and-Savior-of-The-Testing-World, it doesn’t mean much. If you are not-certified-and-not-endorsed-by-the-great-school, it doesn’t matter as well. It would always eventually come to *your* skills, not your school’s and not as promised by the certificate logo which you proudly put on the top right corner of your profile. You can take any of these or other paths. You can choose to remain uncertified/self-certified or you can run after every certificate that you want. You can choose your recipe for glory, but the key ingredient of any such recipe would still be *your* skills.

When the context is that someone wants you to add two numbers, neither you can hide by saying that your friends and your gurus can very well add these numbers, nor you can say that your certificate tells that you were able to choose the correct answer for this addition in your objective type exam. Talking about adding two numbers and the surrounding philosophy is different from adding these numbers and providing the answer.

A lot of great people have contributed to the brand of your company. What have you contributed to it? Well, apart from hiding behind the company’s brand name in your linked-in profile for your own selfish interest of saying “I-Am-Great-Because-I-Work-Here”? What do people think about your company when they look at you, talk to you? When you are doing not-so-great, have you chosen to hide your company name to not to bring bad name to it & take ownership OR you have used company name and its brand value to cover the holes? What are you beyond your current designation at your company?

Don’t hide behind your school, your certificates, your gurus, your company. You can’t hide for long, anyways. Truth has interesting ways to come out and demonstrate itself.

Assess what *you* are and do something about it!

Regards, ( It’s just a word. Don’t take it too seriously, earn it! )
Rahul

Thumbnail Image Courtesy: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

6 Responses to “You Are, What YOU Are”

  1. Pradeep Soundararajan

    Letter to self is really interesting thing to do. When you write every now and then and you read the ones from the past you’d know how cool you were or are now :)

    BTW, I am a good thinker and that’s why I didn’t need or take ISTQB.

  2. shrini

    While I agree with your general suggestion of “develop your own ideas, philosophy” – being influenced by someone or something is not after all bad. Each one of us are influenced by one of the other person or thing all the time – sometime you know the person or idea, sometimes you don’t. But that is fine.

    I don’t agree with your stereotypic statements that context driven testers and ISTQB folks. Your ideas seem to be biased out of certain 1:1 experiences with people.

    Quoting someone you consider mentor or guru is a part of the process to develop your own system of thoughts or values. Few successful ones have managed to come out of influence of their mentors and charted out their own path. Several examples – again in context driven school (none to my knowledge from other schools).

  3. Rahul Verma

    @Pradeep,

    I found it a good exercise too.

    I respect your opinion on ISTQB, because you are one of the few people who would give solid reasons in support of that!

  4. Rahul Verma

    @Shrini,

    I apologize if the post is delivering the message to you that we should not be influenced or that we should always have only original thoughts. The post says that answering with blind quoting is bad. If you are influenced by someone, then in the justification of the idea, please put forward your thoughts too in support for it. Many discussions that I have happen are on the tone – “It has influenced me because it is influential. You should get influenced too.”.

    You are not one of such people, as demonstrated in your comments/discussions. You might quote someone, but you explain it on your own beyond those quotes. In your comments, I see influence of context-driven school, but at every point, you don’t refer back to what someone said. Rather you talk about context-driven thinking, as if it’s your own. This is the level of ownership I am talking of. And as I have observed, in the process, you too express some diversions from the “standard” thought process, which leads to discussions even within the context-driven community and elsewhere. So, when you start owning up an idea and stand with it with the capability as well as willingness to explain and justify your own, this leads to more convincing discussions as well better contributions to the originator of that thought process. If I have to get convinced, these are people who can do that!

    I hate the discussions or answers where someone says to me that I must believe something because some great guy has told so.

    With respect to my statements, I agree that I am biased because of my experience. This post is based on the people I have met in person or via their thoughts on the web. As you would understand, that means quite a few people. If I have met such people or assessed them from this angle, this can also be interpreted as that there’s a perspective you might have missed. There is a pain which you haven’t experienced.

  5. Finny

    We are taught from our childhood to respect our gurus and never question their wisdom. Our minds are conditioned to accept whatever the gurus say and opposing them is considered a sacrilege (not to mention the punishments you could get).

    Having said that, quoting someone because you like their idea is not such a terrible crime. Even though you are incapable of adding your own thoughts to it, if practising it makes you a better person (or tester), passing the idea on might be helping someone else. Insisting that it is the only way, on the other hand, is wrong and it leads to guru worship.

    Quoting ideas and preaching ideas are two different things, IMHO.

  6. Rahul Verma

    @Finny,

    >>>Quoting ideas and preaching ideas are two different things, IMHO.

    Well, that sums up my post. I can’t say it better.

    There’s nothing wrong about quoting. But many a times, we tend to preach by quoting without substantiating it. You mentioned about practising the idea. It’s this practice, the lessons learnt, what worked & what didn’t, was any tailoring required & what was the reason for that… this is what is a value add beyond blind quoting. This personal story of success and failure is what I look forward to.

    Now, the above is strictly my opinion and I am open to hearing any further comments from you.

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