Saturday, December 22, 2007

How to work for an Idiot

For months, Jiju has been bitching about his manager. He even bought a book called “How to work for an Idiot”.

“He doesn’t come for meetings on time.
He doesn’t care about my project.
He is rude.
He gives unacceptable timelines
He is blah blah blah…” Jiju's grouch list was endless.

When this very same manager bugged him to attend a seminar held by the Landmark Forum, Jiju was none too pleased. He dreaded going alone and roped me in to be a co-scapegoat. On the day of the seminar we were joined by Sony, Jiju’s cousin.

It is said that life’s experiences are totally unexpected. The seminar proved it right. It was held at a hall in Mahaveer Jain College on a Saturday between 11 and 1 P.M. The seats were comfy and I planned to slip back to sleep ASAP.

The session started and participants were supposed to speak out their first impression on entering the room. Some people stood up and told that “I saw so many smiling faces… it was such a wonderful sight”…. Did it ring a bell with me? No it didn’t, not yet. But something definitely sounded/looked familiar.

Slowly, the tempo of conversation changed, the expectation from the participants was to tell something, anything that they feel they should be doing in their life but was not able to do for whatever reason. A society’s tragedy spilled forth. All this sounded very familiar to me, but I was still unable to place it.

Now came the testimonial section (and the hunger, my belly was protesting violently by then).

There was this lady who came up and told
“I thought, I was always right, I never cared for anything anybody else said….. I was arrogant without knowing it… Landmark Forum opened my eyes now I am a changed person."

Another guy came up and told “I had problems with my wife. I was always justifying all the lousy things I did. Landmark Forum showed me what I was doing and I felt so bad that I had been such a lousy guy. After the session even my business prospered…”

The testimonials were endless. Students able to learn better, businessmen doing better in their business, spouses jelling better and even love between daughter and mother-in-law!

I was blind with hunger by then, but it was all so emotional and riveting that I stayed put. I had expected this seminar to be like all seminars… a royally boring affair. It was not. To put it bluntly, the "seminar" was actually a glorified sales pitch. I didn’t mind though, they were going about it so beautifully!

Even though most of the speeches were right from the heart, none had broken the “tear-barrier” so far. But that was till a middle aged woman came up and started crying almost immediately. She had been very cruel to her sister-in-law after she married, her self-hate list was endless. Nearly had me in tears too! That was when it finally struck me! I had been through these emotional speeches once before in my life.

As a practicing (my mother practiced it for me!) catholic who did school in Kerala during the 90’s, I was one among the millions who had to make a trip to the divine retreat centre at Pota. There was no escaping that fate. Even though Amma gave me hell if I didn’t go to church or tell my prayers piously every day, my parents were actually not so religiously inclined. The visit was put off for one reason or another for a long time. But in the end, they had to bow down to pressure and make the pilgrimage.

I was in the 8th and would have been happier playing cricket and chasing the neighborhood dogs, but no sir, I had to pray on my knees for a week. Cribbing and exaggeration apart, I actually liked most of the retreat. Unlike the adults I was doing it at the “Christeen Dhyana Kendra” for children, which was filled to the brim with boys my age. We had a whale of a time. But again, that was before the testimonials began. Most of them had me in tears! I felt terribly unhappy that I had such a happy childhood and no testimonial!!! Really felt left out, I did!

Now that I had placed Landmark Forum in perspective, things started making more sense. One of the first conclusions I made was that this was for truly screwed up people, not cool dudes like me. But that was till this cool dude came up and gave a testimonial about how he thought he was such a cool dude BEFORE he did the Landmark Forum course. There went my defense!

Jiju(that double dealing low life!) was the next to strike, “My manager has improved a lot in the past two months, since he did the course. Maybe this is actually good!” Somehow I felt bitching was better! Call me materialistic, realistic or whatever “ic” you want to, but I knew that the cost factor was gonna come up any second now. True to my prediction, it did come up in a short while. 5.6k for a 3 day program! I wouldn’t pay half as much for a 3 day trek in the Himalayas! Maybe I should become catholic again! At least the retreat was free of cost.

I was nearly convinced to do the program when, at the end of the program we had a chat with Jiju’s manager. He told us that this was one of the best things that happened to him. He struck me as a very straight forward guy.

Manager: You don’t become a changed man just coz you do this 3 day program. No program can do that, you have to put in hard work after the program.
I(Thinking): Ah! Hard work… there is my excuse for not doing it!
Manager: What this program does is, it gives you a feeling of how screwed up you are and a support structure to deal with it. I still contact my helper from our class whenever I feel I'm in trouble.
I(Thinking): If the helper is a mallu nurse I would too!
Manager – Speaking To Jiju: I know I have been a very bad manager, but I realized it only two months back and I am trying to make amends.
Jiju: Yeah, I also thought so! Of late, you have been very sharp with your timings. You are never late for a meeting. I have noticed changes. Maybe I should do it too!

That really set me thinking. I had been given an opportunity to lead 4 guys since two months ago. Mostly we worked well, but sometimes things didn’t go as planned and it was really hard to keep my cool on all occasions. Suddenly self doubt reared its ugly head in me… what if I was a jerk? Did they hate me? Was I doing everything properly?

On one side was Rs.5600. On the other, an opportunity to become a better individual. I was totally confused. I cursed Jiju for placing me in this predicament. After much thought, consideration, deliberation, what-not, I finally came upon a solution.... To buy a copy of “How to work for an Idiot” and present it to my team!

1 comment:

stillwaters said...

hahaha.. Nice one "cool dude"!! :D