Tuesday, 08 April 2014 11:30

The 11th Powerful Business Analyst Lesson from Life of Pi - This Will Surprise You!

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It was a tex-mex night at Rose and Crown pub where we have our monthly GTA Business Analysts meetups. Bennett (who is btw, the voiceover for the intro on the BA podcast that I host) always has interesting insights that he brings to the table (no pun intended).

He seemed to really enjoy the “10 Powerful BA lessons from the Life of Pi” that to my pleasant surprise became the top article of 2013 here on BA times. In addition to these 10 inspirations, he reminded all of us about a scene from the movie that can serve as a very important lesson in life; his perspective on this event in the movie inspired me to write this post (Thanks! Bennett).

Let’s also explore the angle of how this can serve as a powerful lesson for Business Analysts later in this post.

So, the scene he was alluding to was the one that can make you wonder to say the least.

When you read about this in the book or watch it come to life in the movie, you will be taken aback. The first question that may cross your mind is:

“Are you serious?” or “Why Pi Why? Why did you do that?”

It so happens that when you are in the middle of the ocean with thinning supplies and having company that can eat you up alive any second, your gut response would be to elude danger. Pi had to build a satellite raft to stay away from the big beast and to ensure he stays alive out in the wild waters. So, when the storm hits the ocean and everything goes helter-skelter the tiger gets overthrown into the ocean.

Hurray! The danger is averted!

“Adios Tiger!”, you may exclaim sub-vocally rejoicing Pi’s freedom in the theatre or jump up in joy if you are in your living room.

However, he does something that has a deep meaning and implication to his survival.

He pulls the tiger back on the boat and rescues him. Because he knew that the Bengal beast was the reason for his survival. He had to be alert and resourceful to continue to survive and also keep the tiger alive. He lived because he knew he was going to die, he forged ahead in the unknown territory because the ocean was a dead end for him, and he was sane because the sheer panic to survive left no room for insanity.

It could have been Pi’s perfect moment to scoot away and bid adieu to the big cat. However, the same danger was the very root of his survival in the sea. Pi remained alive, agile and alert because of the tiger. He had a purpose to serve and something to look out for and to look after. Someone to fear from and to confront with.

So, here is another lesson for life:

“Bring the tiger in”

When we are riding a high wave in the ocean, confronting real tangible fears of the water and the unknown, that’s what is making us strong. There are times when we do realize that an imminent danger is a bad thing, when in reality it may not be.

So, what is the tiger in the context of being a Business Analyst (or any professional)?

Let me illustrate with three examples.

A Tough Project – Staying On

Sometimes, the urge to quit an organization or project because of tough stakeholders or insurmountable politics or other challenges will seem like an obvious choice. However, this can make us stronger and build our resistance and immunity to face them in future. When you make a reasonable assessment of the danger and get a perspective on the situation, you can use a tough project as an excellent growth opportunity.

Career Stagnation – Moving On

As a business analyst, you are champion for facilitating the change in an organization. If you fear change or fear the possibility of confronting a career change, you maybe in trouble. Without tangible career growth, if a stable job and wonderful colleagues (is there anything more?), make you feel like this is your dream job, then you need to step back and get a perspective. Moving on to explore other opportunities is another way you can bring the tiger in.

An Unreasonable Project Manager or People Manager

Most of the times an unreasonable project manager or people manager will have something useful to offer as an experience for you. Take it up as a challenge to question estimates, provide reasoning, and persuade to help a PM understand your POV. If your career manager has unreasonable demands, use this an opportunity to negotiate and set realistic expectations.

As you can see, there is always a reason for an event to take place in anyone’s life or career. The immediate danger of the tiger actually kept Pi live; so, when you confront your tiger make sure you think of this lesson to help the beast embark on your boat and make you stronger!

So, what has your tiger been in the present or past projects? Are you bringing it back on the boat?

Don't forget to leave your comments below.

Yaaqub (Yamo) Mohamed

Yaaqub Mohamed (Yamo), CBAP - is the founder and president of TheBACoach. He runs a popular business analysis podcast hosting expert BA professionals, Authors and Thought leaders from around the globe.

A passionate and practicing business analysis consultant from Toronto, Canada, Yamo has over a decade’s experience in many business and technical domains. He enjoys working on projects that involve strategy, process improvement, legacy migrations, and new app development. He enjoys mentoring BA professionals, teaching business analysis topics and prepping BAs for CBAP and CCBA exams. He is the creator of “The Ultimate BABOK Kit” and author of “The Five Pillars of a Great BA” – his free gift for every practicing BA.

He is also an executive board member of IIBA Toronto chapter. When not working or teaching he loves to read, play guitar, blog, podcast, and spend time with his family.

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