Jul 14, 2023 10 min read

Learning by Mistake

An HR at IOCL by profession, author is an artist at heart. He is fascinated by the art of storytelling, is an avid theatre enthusiast and loves to bring out real life stories/lessons through his writings.

Have you ever bought “Economic Times”? Considered as one of the best financial dailies of the country, I found majority of my finance and Corporate friends glued to it.

So, once I was in Jamnagar (Gujarat), when a very senior industry delegation was visiting our installations near Gulf of Kutch. I received a call by one of the organizing team-members that they require 10 copies of Economic Times urgently for the members of the delegation. I was out in the city for checking some arrangements. I, immediately, got down at a small newspaper shop. The outlet was minute with numerous newspaper copies being displayed in such a manner that it catches the attention of all kinds of readers be it a Sports lover, a Politics enthusiast, a Bollywood fan etc. The shop has numerous local Gujarati dailies too. In a very quick tone, our conversation began:

Me - Please give me 10 copies of Economic Times.

Shopkeeper (in an astonished manner) – Hope, you know it costs Rs. 10 per copy today i.e. on a Saturday.

Hearing this, I was taken aback. Simultaneously, I felt as if he thinks I can’t buy 10 newspapers at a time with this price.

Therefore, in a very straight tone, I replied with a 100 rupee note in my hand, “Take this and give me 10 copies. I don’t have much time”

To this, the shopkeeper laughed out loud and replied “Oh sir, I didn’t mean this. All I want to say is that this is a small place where such expensive newspapers are bought by very few and therefore, I bring limited copies for my regular Economic Times Readers”

I felt so stupid hearing this. How can I expect so many copies at any single outlet. However, the shopkeeper was kind enough to give me 4 copies and further, guided me to a couple of other near-by shops where I could get the remaining copies.

Till day, I had a hearty laugh remembering this incident. It has taught me that the value of little things is mostly learnt at the time of their scarcity. It was a beautiful experience that I could have never encountered in any big city, however, staying in smaller cities teaches you numerous lessons that are unique to their identity.

Such an enriching experience that I had that day on the road still tells me that leaning can take place in our lives in any form. With this, let me bring yet another adventure of my Official life “Learning by Mistake” that made me a lifetime learner.

It was just the beginning of my professional life - My 1st week at the job. The initial days are typically like roaming around in a shopping mall where you see different stalls (oops cubicles I should say) juggling between excels, e-mails and earphones. 

But what caught my attention was an interdepartmental issue. The issue has created quite a buzz among both departments with everyone giving their viewpoints on the same. Suddenly, we were informed that a small meeting has been called in the cabin of our Executive Director, Mr. RP Singh. Mr. Singh, a very learned fellow, who likes to interact with the team on regular basis to brainstorm.

We all entered his cabin. It was a decent cabin with 03 chairs placed in front of Mr. Singh and a separate sofa in the corner. All seniors sat on the chairs and me along with remaining colleagues took seat on the sofa.

Thereafter, Mr. Singh straightaway informed the group about the agenda of this interaction to have a frank discussion on that critical issue. He wanted to have an in-depth conversation by understanding all the transactional aspects, to have a clear picture of the whole process. Listening to him was very inspirational as it was very interesting to listen to such a senior leader speaking from his heart to bring solution to an existing business problem in such a collaborative manner.

Then began the brainstorming exercise and everyone started giving their views. In between, Mr. Singh called his secretary to arrange for tea/coffee and snacks for the team. Like always, I requested for a Masala Tea. The discussions were mid-way and the beverages arrived. As soon as I was placing my cup on the table in front of me, somehow, some tea spilt on the table. I got very scared. Thankfully, everyone was engaged in the discussion, and nobody noticed it. It would be too embarrassing for me if anyone would have seen how I had made a mess of my tea especially in ED sir’s cabin. I slowly picked one of the newspapers, placed on the side of the table and tactfully, placed it on the table to ensure that all the spilt tea gets sucked on the newspaper. And yes, luck was on my side, and nobody noticed it. Moreover, with so many newspapers there, it won’t make much of a difference to any visitor, I felt.

Later me and another colleague were discussing about Singh sir, about his leadership style, his openness to new ideas and his welcoming attitude towards the juniors. He also mentioned that he is an avid reader and they have heard that every day after lunch, he reads Economic Times in his cabin. Hearing the name of the newspaper, I felt nervous as I realized that it was the front page of Economic Times only that I have soaked in my masala tea and how that pink coloured journal must have become a torn piece of paper by now. I even imagined Singh sir eagerly opening that newspaper and his subsequent reaction.

I was getting anxious. One thought came to my mind - “Nobody would know that I’ve done this. I better not look nervous”. However, the inner me was not ready to accept it. I took a deep breath and with all the courage, I went to Singh Sir’s cabin and straightway told him the truth. To my utter surprise, he had a big smile on his face and said, “Youngster, I’m glad to see this truthfulness in your attitude. It is very brave of you to come forward and accept your mistake. And no need to worry, I have already read today’s Economic Times in the morning only”.

I came out of the cabin with a big smile on my face and a big relief in my heart and yes, with one of the most important learnings of my lifetime that I’ve learnt by mistake – “Mistakes will always happen, but to have the courage to accept them shall make all the difference”.


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Comments (3)

Randhir Kumar

Wonderful read, Mr. Karan.

  • 01 Aug 2023


Interesting, honest and brave piece!

  • 23 Aug 2023

Karan Gupta

@Randhir Kumar - Thanks a lot. Glad you liked it!!! @Amit - Thanks so much for the appreciation!!!

  • 24 Sep 2023

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