Book Review: Mind Without Fear – A book by Rajat Gupta

A book, a memoir that is straight from the heart. It is a book that reminds you once again that life can never be only black or white. There can be many shades of grey to it and in fact the shades of black and white may just pale in comparison to the ominous grey.

It is a grim reminder of the fact that life is a roller coaster ride where the downs can test an individual’s core, his raison d’etre. At that point it is only the values embedded in the individual, his mindset and his resolve to stay adrift that can see him through. And one needs nerves of steel to be able to do that. This book I feel is a great read for young corporates and those aspiring to  get into that space. It is about the author’s high flying corporate journey, his experiences and the lessons he learnt from it.

I don’t want to judge the legal aspect of his life or dwell on it because to my mind he has paid a heavy price for something that could not be proved beyond doubt. What I feel and can say for sure is that the book rings of honesty and manages to touch the reader’s heart. There are always two sides to a story and everyone has a right to present their side which is what this book is largely about. There are so many instances which one can relate to, experiences that anyone of us could have had. More specifically people who have been exposed to the corporate world in one way or the other can relate to the book in a big way. The perennial lack of time, the travel, the rushing from one meeting to the other, the pressure of returning calls, coping up with the targets, the deadlines and then to top it all trying to juggle family life along with all of this can take a toll on a person’s mental and physical health. I have seen at close quarters as to how punishing this kind of a schedule can be. And in the midst of all this it is inevitable that a person makes mistakes whether in terms of wrong business calls or incorrect assessment of people and then may have to pay the price and a heavy one as happened in his case. This can be a good eye opener for  young people.

There are great lessons to be learnt from this book. For instance, all aspiring leaders can pick up a rule or two, if not all from ‘The Eight Laws of Rajat Gupta’ which are based on a close observation of his leadership put together by two of his friends:

1. If someone else wants to do it, let him.
2. If you have ten problems, ignore them- nine will go away.
3. Being there is 90% of the game.
4. You can’t push a noodle; find the right angle and pull.
5. The softer you blow your trumpet , the louder it will sound.
6. There is no such thing as too much work or too little time.
7. Listening takes a lot less energy.
8. When in doubt, invite them home.

The book is full of many such nuggets of wisdom that can be picked up and imbibed.. What I feel is that putting aside the issue of his legal  troubles one can learn a lot from his life. After all it does take a lot to reach where he managed to considering his early days. Someone who can rise from being an orphan to an immigrant and then to  an international icon must have got something right.

Another aspect of his personality that the book brings out is the fact that he is a man who values relationships and built a number of long-lasting ones over the course of his life. Not only was he there for his wife and daughters, but even for his extended family consisting of his siblings and their families and his wife’s siblings and their families. He was there for all of them and then even for friends and acquaintances.

And a great plus point is that though the book belongs to the inspiring genre, it doesn’t try to inspire or teach life lessons in a typically boring fashion. It manages to keep you hooked and you want to get to the end. I think it is also because it is an easy read and has a conversational tone to it. I managed to finish reading it in two days!!

All said and done I strongly feel that a man who could rise to such heights with no backing at all and that too in a country that wasn’t his by birth must have done something right to get there. Let’s applaud that and get motivated to reach the zenith of our lives.

He says:

‘A leader is one who can motivate his colleagues and get things done without making them feel that it was the leader who actually had the idea and got the work done’

‘If you worked hard and lived with integrity, you would be rewarded and recognized without having to push yourself in people’s faces’

‘If you have done your best and you have worked with the best of intentions, then results don’t matter.’

‘Life is a series of experiences. None is inherently good or bad- it is what you make of it.’

At Harvard which was a culturally unfamiliar environment, he learnt to assert himself by:

‘Rather than trying to be like everyone else, I could focus on my strengths and use my difference to my advantage’

 And the biggest lesson to my mind
‘One cannot always control what happens in life, but one can always choose how one responds’

A great read all in all..

Rating 5/5

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One Comment

  1. vani kalra April 20, 2019 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Seems to be an inspirational read of a life well travelled . The quotes you’ve shared and the outline you’ve provided makes me want to read it!

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Hello! I’m Sangeeta Relan. Aside from being an educationist teaching at the university level for the last 28 years, I have been a corporate wife and a mother to two boys who have now flown the nest. I love cooking, singing, travelling and exploring new places.

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