All of us are prone to finding excuses for not achieving our aims, ambitions, goals and objectives. It is not in human nature to auto-indulge into introspection for discovering the answer to our respective failures or dis-appointments. It is only upon identification by the environment, either by a direct word or by way of response that one gets into mood of looking inwardly for the possible inadequacies.
The obvious preference is to blame all and sundry for the lack of one’s progression. If this isn’t enough, in doing so, most end up barking at the wrong tree. Here, the aspect to know is that there is no recognition of who to blame!
In the game of cricket, if the batsman’s middle stump is uprooted, lock, stock and barrel, because of a great yorker - no batsman should blame the pitch, and when they do, it is failure on their part to recognize firstly the talent of the bowler and secondly of not having sufficient skills to negotiate a yorker delivery. In a similar vein, an unplayable ace from Freddy Rogers, is his ability and not the blades of grass of the courts.
If misfortune and poverty were accepted to be impediments to excellence, we wouldn’t have Abraham Lincoln, Charles Dickens; Mirza Ghalib, or even the current crop of renowned individuals like Bill Clinton, Barak Obama, London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, Etc. It will do a whole of good to youngsters to find out on how much money did, Dr. A.Q Khan , the father of our nuclear capability, carried with him, when he went to Germany for higher education; his unyielding and relentless passion to achieve some milestone pushed away all economic challenges to shores of non-recognition. No, wonder, he is today aptly referred to as “Mohsin-e-Pakistan”. Thomas Edison said, “of the 200 bulbs that didn’t work, every failure told me something that I was able to incorporate into the next attempt”. I Invite my readers to re-read this remark; do you find, firstly acceptance of personal failure, without finding faults with anybody else, associated with his laboratory; and secondly, since the learning was his own, he made the changes … and there was a “ lighted bulb”.
Talking to young officers and middle management executives, I have on numerous occasions heard remarks like, “I did my best, but my supervisor has his favorites”; or “I couldn’t pass my professional exams, because of family or associated financial challenges”. All these are convenient excuses. The recent winning of elections by Joe Biden repudiates such approach; with heart wrenching personal tragedies, he remained steadfast, towards his goal. I had read that “events” are inevitable-these will happen. They cannot be stopped; floods will happen, rainfall will, earthquakes would rock; seasons would change, for better or for worse- events, especially those to borrow Steve Job’s coinage, outside the sphere of your influence, cannot be checked or prevented; they will happen - should one surrender to “events“ in our lives? And then there are “events” caused by human behavior, like, wars, battles, damage to ozone layer, nuclear reactors will burst or leak; and to bring the thought closer to everyday work life, there would be present around the nasty, unbecoming, and uncouth and demons of demotivation, in the shape of managers/ supervisors, to contend with -- should one submit to such “events”.
As said, events will happen, they are not in our control; what however is within our control is “our response”. Upon critical and unbiased examination of our own experiences of not being able to meet expectations of performance, we would realize that the consequence of event was because of the “quality of response”, we gave to the event. If a manager loses his shirt upon a colleague, that is an event, the “response” by the recipient will determine the “result of the event”. If the individual responds with a blow by blow verbal assault to the managers outburst, the result will be free show for all to witness on the floor. Instead, if the recipient decides to keep calm, and later take up with the manager, when things have cooled off, the result will be different. “I reacted because, I was provoked” or if “he (manager) doesn’t do me any good, why should I? “are attempts in not accepting the lack of control over response. It boils down to the fact that each individual is directly and singularly responsible for the music he/she faces is life, both personally and professionally.
Complaining and whining are self-destructive habits. In my younger years, with a friend, I was found mostly complaining for not getting due level of attention, care and concern. It made me miserable, not my associate. Once I got over this habit the quality of working relationship with colleagues; and generally with friends and family, went through a paradigm shift - it improved. I had begun to see the many advantages of stopping to point fingers at people and situations (events). I controlled my response to events.
The secret to the development of a healthy working relationship lies in being able to remain in control of oneself. What follows control, is internal evaluation, which rarely cheats or is deceitful and hence gives the outcome of recognizing the real issue, which invariably is about oneself - not other!
Complaining helps nobody. Action does. A redressal to the outcome if negative must be initiated. Inertia will make things worse. Just as in our personal space of life, we create our very own environment at work place. While doing so, the only attention that must reign supreme in the mind is that the “responsibility” for all that happens to oneself, is a making of our own selves. M.K Gandhi had once remarked, “you are insulted only up to the extent you permit others to do so”. The outcome is within our control through response.
The need to have and develop a sense of righteousness cannot be underscored. Only an attitude of self-correction that dominates a relationship will foster its deepening; if the expectation is laid at the doors of others, then it is akin to blaming. This demonstrates unwillingness to accept blame for non-achievement, of almost, anything in life.
This is your life. Take charge of it. Never give the reins to others to drive you. Hold by the horn - it is your life!
The writer is a banker and freelance contributor