Friday, 8 July 2011

Are we "Living" or "Existing"?

I still remember the days when I was a kid, eager to start earning. Why? Because that would mean that whatever I earned will be ‘my money’. I will have it completely at MY disposal and would buy whatever I wished to. Time never stopped, and I kept growing. Now, I earn ‘my money’. A six figure salary!!!  That should be a happy ending, right? WRONG.
We all went to some amazing schools, studied hard, graduated from the choicest universities, a whole lot of us went ahead and did our post graduation, and doubled maybe tripled, our otherwise paltry annual package.  I still remember the ‘joy’ and the ‘relief’ that pulsated through me, when the Human Resource Personnel from one of the world’s largest financial institution called out my name. I was ‘hired’.
Little did I realize that along with ‘hired’ came his ugly, insensitive, illogical brother called ‘fired’ or more importantly the fact that ‘MY FATE’ is now linked to the efforts and mishaps of this organization and that my life actually depended on how good had the ‘ex’-CEO done the job. For those of you who are based out of USA, or who were closely associated with the financial industry in the recent past, I’m certain you would have seen this ugly brother ‘fired’ from close distance. At times, this ugly brother comes with family members called recession and layoffs, and at other’s in the form of boss’ ego and insecurity.
Moving on, after working day and night for 6 months, comes the second joy of my life. I got ‘confirmed’. Well!!! Putting my blood & sweat, 18 hours a day, having nightmares of excel spreadsheets and just enough money to meet my expenses, the cherry on the cake was the confirmation that I could continue to do so for the next 30 years. Thank You So Much!!!
Something somewhere was not making sense. I must have missed out something really BIG for the world around me to be so different from what I expected or from what it logically should’ve been. How can there be so many inconsistencies. 
Examples (These are real life cases)
 Example 1: Bank X has the highest profit per employee; however, if we were to do a survey of the average salary of its employees, they would not rank even in the top 5. Guess, this is one of the primary reasons why their profit per employee is so high.
Example 2: Employee A, worked in an organization for 10 continuous years, morning 9AM to evening 10PM (the usual work hours for most companies in the Indian sub-continent). He was heading the marketing department at the end of ten years and was a satisfied with his achievement. Like a schoolbook story, one fine day the company’s ‘management’ realized that the ways and means of the new world require a change of approach in the company’s marketing initiatives. Not surprisingly, a new person was hired and a new division called Innovation Marketing was created. Slowly and gradually 80% of the team and with it 95% of the assignments were transferred to this new department. This mid 30s man with a family, had no option but to suffer in disgrace, as he was ostracized and made redundant. A man with a family of wife and two kids was stuck. The reason: because he devoted himself totally to the company. Foolishly, this extreme devotion ensured that he did not even have time to keep himself updated or acquire new skills.
Now ….. these examples bring out some important things to watch out for:
1.       If you are an employee, always be aware of what are the options in your industry (may be you can earn better).
2.       Statistics like ‘highest profit per employee’ etc. are not the best benchmarks to look at, when choosing a company to work for.
3.       Always ensure you keep yourself updated with latest trends. Be ahead of the time.
4.       Keep your curriculum vitae updated. It does not hurt to remain in the habit of appearing for interviews. Plus it only helps if you know your real worth in the market.

The problem however is that the system in which we are plugged into on a daily basis (leaving Sundays – maybe), does not allow us the bandwidth to undertake anything apart from the core deliverables assigned to us by our employers. Worse - our deliverables themselves may change at any given point of time. Thus, you end up mastering a system and becoming over efficient for a particular way or work, which becomes redundant and obsolete one day, and with that happening, your value for the organization trickles down like a house of cards. And the final nail in the coffin follows, when you’re slowly and gradually alienated and eventually resign.
Isn’t that something to think about?
Isn’t that something to worry about?
Well, if reading the above few paragraphs did make you think. Rather, if reading them made you WORRIED, Congratulations!!!!!!.........
And the reason why I congratulate you is because you still have the will to ‘live’. The system has not corrupted you completely, and you need to congratulate yourself for keeping mankind’s biggest nature ALIVE.
This biggest trait of human nature which has ensured our development over the centuries and ensured that humankind is the most ‘progressive’ race on the planet, is our affinity for disobedience. It is this affinity for disobedience fuelled by our gut feeling for what is right that has sown the seeds for some of the most significant steps in our civilization. The questions remains, are we going to take that STEP or just continue existing!

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