coopting

Co-opting it all | Business Line.

Strategies for adding work to your work-life balance

Recently I came across an interview of the CEO of a leading beverages company where she shared her candid thoughts on work-life balance, why women can’t have it all, and so on. Now there is little in common between her and me. She is a woman, I am a man. She is at the top of the corporate ladder, I am somewhere in the middle, climbing one rung, sliding back two. She, according to Forbes, is one of the most powerful women on the planet. I, according to Forbes, probably do not qualify for a paid subscription. Her annual compensation is well over ₹100 crore, I feel the pain of the ₹500 TDS that BLink will deduct for this column. But that said, I am also juggling multiple, complex, relationship responsibilities as a single father to two youngsters, dutiful son to two oldsters, ex-husband to an impatient ex-wife, boyfriend to a nutcase girlfriend, employee to a demanding boss, columnist for a psycho editor and so on. And so I decided to execute one of the many strategies that she shared.

Given her hectic schedule, she had co-opted her executive assistant to help with parenting responsibilities. Whenever her kids would call office, her assistant would run through pre-defined scripts with them, tackle the issue, and then brief her later. That’s awesome, I thought — I am in the same boat — all these demanding relationships and I really don’t have the time. But rather than add my assistant to the khichdi, I decided to co-opt everyone to handle everyone.

So my soft-spoken kids started calling my hard-of-hearing parents whenever they wanted to play on the iPad.

Kids: “Dadaji, I want to play Temple Run.”

Parents: “What you saying? Talk loudly!”

Kids: “Temple Run. Temple Run.”

Parents: “Jug jug jiyo, beta. Take your sister with you as well. Get some prasad back for all of us.”

And I co-opted my boss and my editor to discuss my work schedule.

Boss: “Does Rishi have a column due this week? Because he has a project at work that he’s behind on.”

Editor: “Yes, he does have a column. And he has used his ‘I have writer’s block so I can get out of jail free’ card already. So we are expecting it.”

Boss: “Well, I don’t really care. The project is way more important.”

Editor: “Well, at a few thousand rupees a month, I think we pay him more than you do; I’m sure he will prioritise us.”

And I co-opted my girl-friend and ex-wife to work out my personal schedule.

Ex-wife: “(cold hello)… When is Rishi coming to pick up the kids for lunch?”

Girlfriend: “(cold hello)… Was he coming today? We have matinee tickets to Humshakals”

Ex-wife: “Humshakals? Are you mad? I would never watch that movie.”

Girlfriend: “Yeah well, you probably shouldn’t. Why don’t you hit the gym instead?”

And for all the wisdom shared by the CEO, this obviously didn’t work as well for me as it did for her. Because I was just flooded with angry, ranting and raving calls from everyone. It was an incessant barrage of pleas, threats, admonishments and cuss words from morning to night. And so I just did what I do best — boarded a flight and levitated, spiritual yogi-style, at 38,000 feet above sea level. Where there is no cell phone signal. I pulled out my hip flask. And I co-opted myself a nice, single malt.

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