Review of the book Sailing through a storm- Making crisis work for you written by T N Hari and Sanjay Swami

Review of the book Sailing through a storm- Making crisis work for you written by T N Hari and Sanjay Swami

None likes facing crisis in life but we all know that it is inevitable though it's form and severity may vary. Some crisis could impact self while some like Covid 19 could impact people at large. Darwin's theory of evolution talks about survival of the fittest, which emphasizes on the adaptablity to the adverse situations as a quintessential quality to live to see another day. This theory is very much and all the more relevant in present scenario given the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) nature of the world. But what are the essential qualities, you may wonder. Thanks to the authors T N Hari and Sanjay Swami, who are eminent personalities in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in India, for they have shared their collective wisdom in the form of their book 'Sailing through a storm-Making crisis work for you', which helps us understand these qualities through the inspiring lives of men and women who had confronted major crisis, with equanimity and fortitude. All are real-life stories, including their personal experiences and that of illustrious people, most of whom are least heard of and had stayed away from the proverbial limelight. 

Earlier, I used to wonder, as I read philosophical books, as to how philosophers/ some writers like Somerset Maugham are able to portray the innermost depth of human emotions through their thoughts and words. It is only later it dawned upon me that they would have in the first place gone through these emotions or perhaps, would have been in a position where they would have witnessed others go through at close quarters, without which creating the impact they had on readers wouldn't have been possible. This view of mine only got cemented when I read this book, as the authors have maintained this book more as a personal memoir, highlighting anecdotes from their own experience with crisis management and from the lives of people they have encountered or mentored. This makes the book more authentic and relatable.

The book has no specific sequence and hence, the reader can pick any chapter. And, the authors have also helped us by distiling the takeaway at the end of each story. Unlike many management books, the language used in the book is simple and shoots straight to the point and doesn't beat around the bush. I also liked the fact that the authors are humble enough to vividly describe their failures, mistakes and the emotions they went through during the low points during their face off with crisis. 

Personally, I was quite inspired to know about the lives of Rani Ahilyabhai, Bachendri Pal, and other scientists whom the authors talk about in the book for they served the human kind without expecting anything in return. The adversity that they battled was largely circumstantial despite which they made the most of it by handling situation deftly. 

The authors, who themselves are entrepreneurs, have mentored many and the book covers must-read accounts about their experience during 2008 crisis and with the start-ups they had mentored or were part of. I found the concept of Creative Destruction which the book illustrates through the example of Digital Equipment Corporation quite interesting, explaining the analogy between an organism and an organisation highlighting the phases through which they mature, reach the peak and eventually vanish. The authors also have given adequate inputs with regard to how not to handle a crisis and the importance of pre-empting a crisis, though the world doesn't celebrate those who pre-empt as much as they do about those who fight after the onset of a crisis. 

At the end, the book sums up the top 5 qualities, based on the authors' observation and experience, that one should possess to handle a crisis well. This will serve as a ready reckoner and a gentle reminder for those going through or are likely to go through a crisis, on what is the optimal approach and the attitude that one should carry in facing off a crisis. You may have a question running in your mind, "Covid is a thing of the past and things look settled now. Why should one be prepared for such rare events?". The only thing that is certain about life is that it is uncertain. Time and again history has proved that and it will continue to surprise us with it's bolt from the blue attacks. As I write this post, there are thousands of people who are suffering due to Ukraine war and earthquake in Turkey/Syria, for no fault of theirs and are facing a mammoth crisis. 

Staying vigil and cultivating the right mindset are the only arsenal that can, to certain extent, guarantee one's survival in navigating a crisis. The book does feel repetitive at times as broadly the same set of ideas resonate across different stories but this is a minor flaw which the reader can easily brush aside to immerse oneself into the wealth of knowledge that this book imparts. 


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