(I was privy to many an enlightening conversation in my lifetime; not by invitation but by virtue of being a very ordinary and listless individual who can blend in the background and can be easily ignored. I am like your ubiquitous taxi/auto driver, housekeeping staff, waiter in a bar or a fly-on-the-wall. It has its merits. And am not complaining because it helps me act my part as an honest medium relaying things in turn to you reader, who hopefully, will learn a trick or two from these scribbling and profit from it.
The following powwow I heard not so long ago; and am sharing it with you in 7 parts; for I know you can only invest so much time at a stretch during working hours; while not getting distracted from playing solitaire or forwarding latest jokes)
“I don’t know. Am elated and at the same time feel empty. Have been doing everything right. Performed well. Went beyond the call of the duty. Am part of all key implementation projects. Boss smiles at me once in a while. Don’t extend my lunch breaks or take multiple caffeine/nicotine breaks. Yet right from being served coffee at the table to being invited for Boss’s regular outings; from figuring in the grapevine often to being called in for board meetings everything seems to be eluding me” groaned the newly promoted executive (NPE), stirring the contents of the glass placed in front of the accountant who asked how it felt to be kicked upstairs, after languishing for 2 years at the same position.
The accountant did his bit indulgently, to cheer up the kid for he liked the lad. This here is a man with a sense of humor who after seeing him surreptitiously browsing an adult site has included him in his spicy e-mail forwarding list. Where others would have not batted an eyelid in appraising the top management of the same or worse giggle knowingly during lunch-time; this man here did what a kid with a golden heart and a funny bone does. The accountant filled the pauses occasioned by the limitation of NPE’s lungs with encouraging words.
“I know you have it in you to move into the corner office some day.” “Carve out your niche.” “Don’t give a quarter. Guard your turf with zeal.” “The future is yours.”
“Thanks old man, I know you will be. I was working hard for it and have performed beyond anybody’s expectations. Still don’t know how long it will take to get fast-tracked onto the road ahead that is promising and paved with gold. Can see my own cabin, corporate credit card, car with chauffer and conferences overseas. But are they mirage?”. The NPE was slowly slipping.
“Listen. I know you are one of the best performers and the brightest chaps around in this organization, and god knows if all goes well; in little over a couple of years; instead of me passing your vouchers you will be signing my salary cheques.” “But…” the accountant paused for the bearer to replenish his glass with a large.
“But what? Do you think I will not make it?” ejaculated the NPE.
“NO”. Like numbers and revenues the accountant, with equal dexterity, can mask the ugly underbelly and paint a beautiful picture. But there are occasions when he too can call a spade a spade. And this was one such occasion.
“And I will tell you why. Tell me, what do you think will get you promoted continuously and takes you to the high seat of power”?
“Multi-tasking. Ability to raise flag at the appropriate time. And provide solutions before others even identify the problems… “, the NPE was like a man in possessed, banging his half-full glass (for he was an optimist albeit a naïve one) on the table. He could have gone on and on, for he was a man who never bunked a lecture at the business school or never failed to memorize key quotations from any self-help or career building guides.
The accountant knew that and moved in quickly.
“That’s precisely what the donkey thought before he got a good hiding and was kicked out by his master who he served loyally all his life”, said the accountant.
“What donkey? What rot is that all about, old man?” NPE was confused and slightly worked up.
“Okay, I know you dig management consultancies, self-help gurus, chicken soups with moving cheese, matrixes and clever acronyms than anything else. So at the cost of the readers not following the 6 other stories beyond this one; for they will now know the formula for attaining power; I will proceed to lay it out.” He took a paper napkin and scribbled legibly (for accountants like doctors are not known for their calligraphic skills) to put down the following equation.
Power = Position + Positioning + Proximity + Personality + Perceptions + PR + Performance
“I don’t understand. I thought…” mumbled the NPE. But he never got to complete as the accountant interjected “I know you won’t. So here munch on these peanuts and listen to the story”. Downing the contents of the half-empty (for the accountant sees things for what they are) glass and acknowledging the bearer who moved in quickly brining in reinforcements, proceeded the accountant
The Donkey who cared not for Position and put purchase on Performance
“In a small listless village, a fair representative of both listless and listed villages that dot our vast landscape lived a Dog and a Donkey working for a washerman running a profitable venture. The Donkey used to wake up early in the morning, nibble fast on little bit of grass leftover from the previous night to get ready to carry the dirty load. The Dog on the other hand, though wide awake used to rest its head on the crossed fore-legs, close its eyes and lie down till the washerman came in and patted on its back, played with its ears, left a freshly made roti and a bowl of milk in front of it, commending it for the long hours it has put in during the night and the successful outcome of its vigil (for his money and valuables were safe in the morning when checked).
At mid-day, the Donkey used to pass its time eating the grass that grew on the banks of the river, alone with no company, while the Dog relished its rice and soup with the washerman household. And retire under the shady neem tree in the backyard, nibbling on a bone left to it by the doting daughter of the washerman. A completely sedentary and envious lifestyle. The most it used to do under the head of work is wag its tail to shoo the free-riding flies away.
During evening, when the washerman came home it used to lunge onto him, sniff and lick at his feet (for the Dog though shameless was never short on the shrewdness department). The Donkey used to amble in carrying in the washed load and its own fodder, never a murmur or a word of complaint. Subjugation personified.
Dinner was no different, with the Dog fed to the gills (it may or may not have them, but you get the picture) for it had a long and arduous and most critical part to play; and the Donkey ploughed through the forage before thinking of the day ahead. It thought the perseverance it showed and the performance its putting on will reward it in the long run. It was happy doing its bit for god, countrymen and its master. It reveled in the knowledge that its diligence is what keeps the people close to each other and the world peace prevailing. For who would make an attempt to come within an arm’s distance of a smelly clothed individual; or not make an attempt to pick on others regarding whose linen is dirtier?
But for him, the whole world would have been one big bad chaotic place. Thus thought the good Donkey.
The Dog along with its fellow dogs had formed a network, wherein only of them had to keep vigil across the village every night and raise a robust woof when anything unusual is spotted. This would raise the other dogs who will chip in joining the chorus; driving the unusual thing away and thereby meet their K-9 Performance Indicator. This usually helped the Dog catch more than its 40 winks during which it hated to be disturbed at all. On the day of its vigil, though, it condescended to spend time faffing around with Donkey. The faffing was mostly centered around how the master can do more to it for all the feet-licking it does day in and day out.
The Donkey though surprised, for it thought the Dog had it all, lent a patient ear mostly. On occasions, it used to berate the Dog for not doing its duty diligently, for instead of engaging in long conversations such as this, it should be doing couple of rounds around the house. It (the Donkey) said it was thankful to the boss for letting it do its job without interfering and giving it timely fodder.
One day, on its vigil, while engaging in such a conversation, the Dog failed to notice an unusual movement near the boss’s house. The Donkey though caught it from the corner of its eye and alerted the dog to do the needful. The Dog said its none of the Donkey’s business to tell him what he should be doing, and anyway it’s much better catching the thief with the loot, red-handed than scaring the thief off before he did any noticeable damage when the boss wont be any wiser to the incursion. The logic didn’t go down well with the Donkey, as it believed that prevention is better than detention.
It rose to the occasion and let go in full throat that which its ilk is better known of and derided for. Brayed aloud. The thief ofcourse jumped a few inches higher in the air, for it was a new alert system that he came across, but nonetheless made good on foot, in the process upsetting the well lined flowerpots of the house. The whole household got up, the washerman out with the stoutest of staffs in hand, bracing both for an intrusion if any, for the Dog didn’t bark, or giving the Donkey its due, for it brayed and disturbed his golden dream.
The Donkey, seeing the boss come from inside, ran towards him for a pat or hug or a piece of roti; for one doesn’t know what goodies a good and honest performance brings in. Drinking in one sweeping glance, the upset flowerpots, the nothing-wrong-with-the-world lackadaisical demeanor of the Dog; the boss could deduce that the Donkey went out of its line.
THADOOM. Came down the staff on the hapless and unsuspecting lowly creature.
“BRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYY” a gut-wrenching cry reverberated through the air, making even the stoutest-at-heart Dog to wince a wee bit.
A wise owl perched on top of the neem tree, witness to the whole; clucked his tongue and thought aloud “Multi-tasking blah. Raising flag blah blah. If only we all render what our respective positions demand from us than being slaves to conscience..”
“I get it, so you will suffer if you try doing good for the boss”, said the now sober NPE.
“You got it from the Donkey’s perspective, which is good but not great. Look at it from the Dog’s POV if you want to be on the winning and powerful end of the bargain”.
“mm…there’s something in that”, admitted the NPE.
“Hang on, here comes our patron saint of spirits to serve another round of salvation”. “By the end of it all my boy, you will be a true man(ager)” adjusting himself comfortably in the chair, the accountant proceeded to enlighten him with another story.