Illness teaches you a lot about yourself. And it teaches you a hell of a lot about others: Khalid Raza
You all must be wondering why I have not written for so long. Well, those of you who are connected on social networks know that I have been extremely unwell. It all started, in the last week of my CSC assignment, with a very unnerving but harmless fever, which was taken care of by half a tablet of paracetamol. Within a day, I was touching 39.5 degree Celsius (103.1 degree Fahrenheit), with severe pain and burning eyes, body pain, and shivering. We visited the clinic, which in itself is a big story (maybe I will share it some other time), and I was put on drips (first time in my life) and all blood tests were done. Everything turned out to be normal and we came back to the hotel, but I was far from normal.
Dani, one of my CSC assignment members and now a very good friend, took care of me almost all the time. Sometimes it meant that she had to sleep less to get work done, but her care and support made me feel better. This is where she became a leader.
It was difficult for me to stand up for five minutes, I could not keep my eyes open and my body was burning. In the middle of all this, our assignment’s final presentation and report were due. The work had to be done and the team made a checklist. To my dismay, surprise and shock, the work was divided equally. I had two choices – either to make my team take into consideration my obvious and horrendous condition and seek empathy or pick up the gauntlet and deliver. I chose the latter. I was writhing in pain, crying for some relief, working the laptop, even though the screen made my eyes burn. This was the moment; someone from the team had to be a leader.
Finally the last day came and I stayed away from the press, videos and talking, as my body was giving up on me by then. By this time, I had been to two different hospitals, four visits, thrice on drips but all the reports were still fine. While my team was enjoying the last evening by the pool, I was waiting to die as the temperature touched 40.2 degree Celsius (104.4 degree Fahrenheit). We all were to fly next day and I wanted to go home to people who love me.
One of our clients, Maria’s husband, who is a doctor himself, after knowing my condition, asked me to get hospitalized immediately. We met a specialist who finally diagnosed it to be a severe infection of Pneumonia in my left lung. He said, if I would have flown, it would have been my last flight as my lungs would have collapsed. I am in hospital since the last five days and I am recovering. I still cannot breathe normally and get breathless when I walk some distance. While I was hospitalized, I was constantly visited by Alex, who bought a lot of stuff for me to eat, Wendy, who graciously shared her Netflix account with me, Dani, who has done more than one can for me already and Tushar, who understands that the presence of a friend in difficult times is all we need to gain strength. They are all leaders as they are ready to sacrifice for people they care for. Others may have fancy roles with shallow characters and they hang the values card on their chest, but are driven by only one motive – self. And that my friends, is a sure sign that they are never leaders.
Olivia, who is our local contact from Pyxxera Global, along with her husband Julian have been God sent angels. They have been extremely caring and patient with me. They visit me twice a day, not to put a tick mark on a report, but to spend time with me. They are a lovely couple but more importantly, amazing human beings.
I must also mention how amazing IBM has been. I have received complete co-operation and support from my company and leaders who are actively engaged in knowing how I am recovering. I am honored, proud and privileged to be an IBMer.
I am writing this blog to you from Clinica Del Caribe, from the bed where I have now spent five days. Within a week I will be off to my country, but everything I learnt during my illness will stay with me. In one of her blogs, my wonderful friend and guide Maureen Monte shared a story of how a sleepy employee did not get her recommendation for his behaviors in one of the projects. She suggested that we all are being seen by others. If we wish to become leaders, we need to behave like one.
Those of us who did are on their path to become and those of us who did not, will never become. Remember: Leaders are never born, but become one.