When in need of change…

‘Getting by’ can be a daily struggle. Most of us on this island struggle to get by on an everyday basis. What’s the struggle really? What’s causing it? Is there anything that can be done to avoid or ease it?  

The struggle, no matter what the situation, no matter who the individual, is real. The struggle to live; a content and a comfortable life. Take a look around you – from the man who comes to the door every Monday to pick up the garbage to the employee sitting at her office desk waiting for the next paycheck, are dealing with difficulties every single day of their lives. Money; as we know is hard to come by and yet, spent easily.

It isn’t really about bad management. Us Sri Lankans don’t just waste away our money. Okay, maybe a few of us do. Rather on the wider scale of things, it’s the cost of necessities and the laws of this country that are taking it away as it comes. Atop every necessity required, there’s a tax imposed. Atop savings, there’s yet another tax.

Chairman and Founder of Ceylon Solutions, Marion Mariathasan immigrated to Kansas at the age of 9. He may not have spent most of his years in Sri Lanka, but maintains a close connection as the company’s development team overlooked and managed by CEO Sanjeeva Wijaya, is based here. “I’m very much a Sri Lankan at heart, and I understand there are struggles faced by the middle-class in my motherland. There are core fundamentals, ethics and values in order to develop a successful company. At the root of such a company, lies the hardworking employees. If we don’t give in to the notion of keeping them happy, supporting their ideas and investing in their well-being, then what’s the point?”

Marion Mariathasan

“I’ve come to understand that my most valuable experiences over the years have come from traveling, and the people I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with. I’ve learned that humility and kindness are virtues I admire the most, and that no matter the level of education, wealth, power and status, everyone is equal. The depreciating rupee value has made me understand that this creates tough living conditions for our local team based in Sri Lanka. Which is why, as a company, we agreed to increase everyone’s salary from the month of November, 2018,” said Marion.

As the cost of living rises, the daily struggles continue. How much is a 1,000 rupee note worth today? If you step outside your home, is it enough to get by? If you aren’t someone who takes public transport, getting from one place to another will cost you more than a couple of rupees. Your three meals will cost you a few more. There are bills to pay. Rent to settle. Taxes that eat away at your bank balance. Children’s education. Personal expenses. The list goes on.

We fail to understand the notion and similarities of every living human. We fail to understand that along with the rise of the cost of living, a stagnant salary isn’t going to suffice. “As a company, we want our employees to have a work environment that is healthy and uplifting; a life that is just so too. An unchanged salary hereon, isn’t going to make the cut when people struggle to make ends meet. We want our employees to live a happy and content life and in order to do that they must also be happy in their workplace. The most important thing is to help one another, give back to the community and this is certainly one way of doing it,” he added.

Marion and I further discussed how passionate and career-driven Sri Lankans can be, and yet why they continue to struggle and get by in life. “People don’t have an incentive to work harder, to be better and to come up with better or new ideas. There’s a hierarchy when it comes to a working environment – something that does not exist within our company. Creating different levels of standards means a junior employee is afraid to voice his or her opinion and is most often simply told what to do, instead of being allowed to grow and express him or herself. We mustn’t restrict our employees this way; we should be encouraging them to speak out, to voice their thoughts and opinions. Myself along with Sanjeeva and the rest of the team believe we should be making them feel valued and important instead of the other way round.”

Most often, businesses and companies tend to fail, have employee containment and job satisfaction issues due to these very reasons. Ceylon Solutions on the other hand believe in putting their employees first – allowing them to feel valued and thereby creating a healthy work environment. Billionaire philanthropist Richard Branson once said “look after your staff first, the rest will follow” and by all means, this rings true.

It’s about time there was a change in attitudes. A change to support one another, not just as employees of a company but as individuals. A change that allows growth, encourages stability, and also brings about a deeper sense of understanding one another. I find that what is most lacking throughout the struggles that we face every single day is empathy. If we have empathy towards one another, then we’d understand one another, and we’d support one another and grow together. Marion and his team at Ceylon Solutions provide a fine example of what empathy can embody and how it can change the lives of the people of our island. Perhaps their actions would someday drive others to do the same.

Ceylon Solutions was founded in 2005 and is based in Denver, with offices in New York City, Dallas as well as Sri Lanka. It is a software development company committed to delivering high-quality development services. Based on each client’s specific needs, the company handpicks a personalized development team of experienced coders and engineers in Sri Lanka, while still operating under US law.  

http://www.ceylonsolutions.com

What’s the plan?


I met up with a colleague from an ex-work place about four months ago. We talked about how different our lives are from what it used to be just five years ago and where our careers have led us today. After an hour or so, she looked at me intently and asked me “so what’s your plan?” to which I simply stared back. I had a million thoughts running through my head though – what plan, should I have a plan, is it bad that I don’t, what does it mean if I don’t have a plan, should I make up one right now just for the heck of it. I couldn’t think of any one thing that would suffice and instead, I replied with a big fat “no”.

I didn’t think about it much for the next couple of days until two weeks later, yet another person asked me the same question. Once again, I responded with a “no” but this time, I felt a tad concerned about what I had just said. Why didn’t I have a plan? If people are going to ask me about it, perhaps I should? And what does it say about me if I don’t?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that what the question actually posed was “what can I do with my time that’s important and make it fulfilling?”

Finding an answer to this question is a far better one to tackle than the previous one which honestly made me feel like an idiot. I don’t have to sit on my bed contemplating the significance and importance of my life; instead all I have to do is find out what feels important to me, and what makes me happy. And this is exactly what you should find out for yourself too.

You see, because life isn’t about what everyone is posting on social media or what I had for my last meal, or the last time I watched a dumb television series or went to work and felt a bit undervalued. A purposeful life is about the moments that make you forget about the bad things, and instead make you feel like you’ve not lost much time. It fills your hours and days with gratitude for the life you breathe.

I understand that sometimes differentiating work and life isn’t possible. Your passion and drive towards the career you’ve built and are building make it hard to separate and that’s okay. Rather, come to an understanding that they both go hand in hand. This way, every working moment is also fulfilling and will bring you joy. I look at millennials who are a couple of years younger to me and have realized that they tend to blur the line between work and life and strike a balance. Instead of compromising on one, they make sure both complement one another and view it quite holistically.

It is imperative that you spend your time wisely; however, sitting at home, doing nothing every now and then is not such a bad thing either. For many of us, old fashioned complacency can be disastrous; we fall into a routine that serves no purpose, we distract ourselves and end up doing absolutely nothing. I’ve told myself that I want my life input to reflect on my life’s output. As much as I like working hard to receive that paycheck at the end of the month, I also will ensure I put it to good use (add a quarter every month to my savings and spend some of it on traveling and seeing my country). These ideals can change from one person to another, and that’s perfectly alright as long as you find opportunities to be engaged by the challenges that come your way, and you continue to be engaged and energized.

I think I initially panicked because I had forgotten how much of an impact the choices I make in life can have on not just myself, but also the people around me. Know what you value because this will help you understand what’s important to you and how it makes you feel.

Good luck!