Mindfulness Saves the Day

Updated: Jan 28, 2019

During my tenure at a leading market research consultancy, immediately after being promoted to the post of project manager, I almost lost my job. The lesson that I learnt that day is still with me.

Just a day before the client presentation, as the clients' reports were being printed for delivery. It had been a long day and I was looking forward to call it a day. As I got ready to leave, I was informed that the report will not be sent for binding till I okay it.

Fuming inwardly for the extra task, I casually scanned the unbound pages. I was admiring the presentation of the graphs, when I spotted it. A finding that I had missed while writing the concluding remarks.

The major market share leader (the client) was second on spontaneous brand recall. How could that be? How could a major market share leader that had monopolized the market for years, until recently, not be the consumers' "top of mind". It was ALMOST impossible. Assuming that the large consumer base of the brand had suddenly lost favour of the consumers and were dissatisfied, still they won't just forget it.

Another missing piece, consumer "top of mind" was held by a new entry to the market. True the new brand had conducted a very aggressive advertising campaign just before our survey. But the percentages seem unrealistic. The picture was simply incomplete.

To search for the missing piece, I sat with the field manager, to retrace each step of the study backwards to see if there was an error. Otherwise this could blow right in my face during the presentation. Even with the aggressive ad campaign I could not explain it comfortably.

As we started checking the original questionnaire, we found the error in the codes. Due to similarity in the brand names, most Arabic questionnaires were wrongly coded.

The entire process was redone. Answers were re-coded, rentered, reprinted. I took the printed report home to redo the findings and conclusions. We redid almost the entire work. But the day was saved. And I learnt an important lesson that day. Never take any step lightly. Work mindfully.

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That little piece is crucial!

Another time, when, at the start of my career, I had decided to turn down a temporary position in the advertising cum market research department of a major market leader, I was advised to look at the big picture and consider the many benefits I was overlooking.

In the end, I took that job grudgingly. Later, not only did that ‘15 day extended to 2 month’ job shine brightly on my resume, but it is one of the most memorable times of my career.

Every job interview that I gave thereafter began with questions regarding my work at that job. I made friends, I learnt things that helped me with my later jobs. I wonder at times, had that experience not been in my resume, would the course of my career been different somewhat...

That day, I learnt my lesson. Never ignore the tiny little knots that tie up the big picture. If you do, whatever, findings or conclusions, you base on it will fall through one of the holes.

We get distracted easily by the petty things and lose focus of the big picture, and take decisions based on partial information. Such a decision is, later, regretted and its consequences often make all the involved parties unhappy.

Looking at the ‘Big picture’ or the ‘whole picture’ also means having the perspective on and considering the total situation or issue. After seeing complete picture, we can confidently prioritize the important tasks and ignore the others.

Once we see a situation in its entirety and acknowledge

everything, we understand all that is favourable for us and that there is so much to be thankful for.

A homemaker who keeps in mind the bigger goal of buying house, will find it easier to forgo irrelevant expenses. A businessperson needs to keep the bottom-line of his business in mind while making advertising and hiring decisions. Students who lose focus of exams schedule end up spending precious study hours in completing assignments and practical books.

Those who have big goals on their minds do not mind the small sacrifices.

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