Grit, according to psychologists, plays a critical role in our life. For entrepreneurs and people who take on difficult missions, it is even more important a quality. As Shaer Hassan of ‘Nascenia’ asserts in his recent interview, “Perseverance is the most important yet often underrated quality in entrepreneurship.”
Despite the incredible importance of the subject, we seldom receive lessons on developing perseverance. How do you approach hard work of life when you are from an inherently disadvantageous position? How do you summon enough gumption to wither difficulties of life?
We recently interviewed Rasel Ahmed, founder, and CEO of SystemEye Technologies Limited whose life offers a window into how to approach the difficult job of pursuing one’s ambition as well as how to overcome adversities.
Rasel Ahmed, a philosophy graduate from Rajshahi University, started his career in sales. In his first job, at a local software company, Rasel had to do both software sales and customer support. After office hours, customer support would easily take him late into the night. But instead of taking the extra work personally, he took it as an opportunity to learn and develop skills. In his interview with Future Startup, he shares a few specific lessons that anyone pursuing a difficult goal and coming from a disadvantageous situation can put into work.
Learning triumphs money
Much of Rasel’s early life tactics to learn computers or develop relationships with teachers offers us an intriguing idea about how to approach learning in adult life and why we should put learning over money.
Ahmed was a self-learner. He taught himself operating computers while working for free for his uncle’s computer shop during and after his HSC. He had worked for his uncle for 2 years without any payment and took it as an opportunity to learn computer and its application. Eventually, this prospective computer skill helped him throughout his life. In fact, dictated his entire career trajectory eventually leading to the founding of SystemEye Technologies Limited. Despite being a philosophy major, he started his career at a technology firm in a sales man position.
“We did not ask for money,” Rasel tells to FS. “We used to enjoy the work and considered it as an opportunity to learn and develop skills and as something that would benefit us later.”
This may suggest an important principle for a good life: an opportunity to learn is a terrible thing to waste.
Prepare yourself for the hard work of life
Hard work is a learned skill. Most people don’t like to work hard. A few do. This is because most people don’t receive a training in hard work from their family or in school. Psychologists may explain the phenomenon better.
Rasel told FS that he got that training when he worked as a team leader for the NID project in his final year at University.
The project was extremely demanding. He had to start the day at 5 AM in the morning with a briefing and then had to manage operators, daily works and upload the data to the database late into the night. “I learned a tremendous amount about team management, teamwork, professionalism and most importantly, I learned about hard work and tenacity and discipline,” Rasel says. “It prepared me for the hard work that one needs to do in life in order to achieve anything worthwhile. Afterward, when I came to Dhaka, taking all the pressure, riding the local bus and visiting clients, none was that difficult for me because I already had the training”
No work is small. Every job can teach you something valuable.
Rasel joined as a software salesman in his first job. However, apart from sales, he had to go for client servicing despite the fact that it was not his responsibility and he was not paid for it. Moreover, it often took him late in the night to finish client support work. But he never complained and never said ‘this is not my job’. In turn, that experience helped him further develop his computer skill as well as his ability to work long hours, both proved invaluable in his later life.
“I never felt bad for doing extra work and never said that this is not my job because I preferred the learning opportunity. My first job in Dhaka, in that sense, was yet another opportunity for me to learn and work hard. I learned marketing and I also learned more about computer and software.”
Breaking commitment is often a red flag and a cardinal sin in human relationship.
“You have to be very careful about your commitments because commitment often leads to trust, says Rasel, “and credibility that can make or break your business”.
Throughout his struggles and hardships, Rasel Ahmed tried to uphold his commitments. He was very dedicated to his work and responsibilities.
Shaer Hassan of Nascenia puts it in even more eloquently in his recent interview: “in business or in any profession for that matter, your reputation is your most valuable asset. The interesting thing about reputation is that it is hard to build but easy to ruin. It takes years to build it but a small mistake can ruin it in a moment.”
Invest in yourself
Contrary to common assumption, our real education begins after school. A large part of your personal achievement comes from your ability to do things. Rasel suggests his passion for learning new skills and personal development helped him throughout his career. However, he claims that many entrepreneurs are not interested in personal development and seldom takes time and effort in investing themselves. For that reason, he is afraid that they might not be fit for tomorrow’s competition and market. In that respect, his advice to the young learners is to be a relentless learner.
“… many of these people who start business lack important skills but seldom they take the time to develop themselves which is incredibly important to do. Invest time and effort in yourself and your personal development. Be a relentless learner”
If you are building a business or pursuing a difficult mission or working in a challenging profession, it does not help to seek shortcut or beat yourself up when you fail. Instead, achievement, any form of it, is a sequential and long term process for which you have to prepare yourself. In order to have a fulfilling career, it is not enough to find your passion, you also need to put yourself into work, apply yourself to learn new skills, work hard, maintain your commitments and consistently invest in yourself.
(Ruhul Kader contributed to this story)