Last month, my company garlanded the heroes of the company, setting forth role models for others to emulate. It’s called the Awards for Excellence – an event to proclaim and applaud the mighty ones who have done more than the ordinary, stood taller than others and achieved a distinction not wont to many. And for an organization spanning one hundred thousand, to be among the chosen few would definitely be something.
What does it take to get there? To stand out and be known as the achievers; to deserve special mention from the lot; and if you are not amongst the top ones, does that mean one is under performing? That one is not working to the fullest potential?
I once asked my colleague – What motivates people to work? Apart from the obvious monetary benefits; he said people are responsible. There is nothing that is motivating them to work. It’s just the sense of responsibility that makes them finish the work assigned. It’s more like they do it for the sake of it. A deadline to meet; questions to answer; that’s basically it.
To an extent I will have to agree with him. Imagine doing the same thing over and over again. I am not in the manufacturing sector. I belong to the servicing sector. Now if the kind of services your company is offering is just the same, what reason would excite you to do your job? Apart from the obvious sense of duty, work could get mundane, frustrating and often lifeless.
Where is the question of excellence here? How does one differentiate another? Everyone doing what they have been asked to. Nothing extraordinary, just the ordinary gets repeated. Not surprising then that most of the youngsters will be seriously dejected with work.
The fact that an event recognizing excellence from over a hundred thousand could only attract the attention of a few hundred speaks a lot of the mindset people have towards excellence.
I feel its a problem with our surrounding. Our environment. Our education. Our school. There is a fundamental problem that usually plagues all of these. Think of this - when someone speaks of their son/daughter making into a prestigious university, what do you think makes them so happy about it. Leaving apart the social recognition, it is the assurance that the lad will walk out with a secure future on completion of his/her degree that gives them utmost peace. The focus is only on securing a future. On getting a good job. That is the primary concern of every parent. That is how we are brought up. Any career other than the conventional ones are frowned upon even today.
The child's interest is the last thing in the minds of people. I remember my father's friend who went berserk when I told him I didn't want to do an MBA. He scowled at my ignorance. That I didn't want to take a laid out path made me look stupid and idiotic. And he heads a career guidance cell in my town!!!. This was the same person who told me that only a fool would choose I.T in engineering, when my father told him I had opted for that. That time, the dot com bust had just happened and he was almost certain that I.T was just a spike and there was no future in it.The essence I am trying to bring forth is that our concern with the buck spoils our attitude. We are never encouraged to love anything. To chase our passion. Or to even kindle a passion in subjects that interest us. Our schooling system dumps loads and loads of information. Our college repeats the same with outdated content.
And then we complain that there is a huge gap between academia and industry. That there is a serious lack of employable talent and so on. How can you? No one ever studied to learn. Studies was only to earn - marks, certificates or jobs.
When the noble laureate Ramakrishnan was in IIM, someone asked - how do you get a nobel prize. His answer summarizes it all - "to go for a nobel is a sure recipe for disaster. Nobody goes into research for a nobel. Its their love for the subject that attracts them. It is the change they can bring about that motivates them. Not the nobel"
No wonder then that India is nowhere close in global research. We are never encouraged in that direction. Not that we have any dearth for talent. we are never short on intillegence. We have with us some of the brightest minds. Only that we lack the support.
There is a need for change and it should begin at home. If every parent can encourage their child to find his/her interest. To allow them to excel in that. To allow them to do what they really love. It would bring about a radical change. It would change the way we discharged our duty. It would have an effect on the product that we produce. On the service that we offer. Our own bars of expectation would rise then. How many times have we been fooled by the salesaman saying export quality. Why is it that local quality is never sought after?
It is the mindset that needs a change... This is the message I want to share with all my readers this new year. Lets chase excellence.
As Rancho says in 3 idiots - kaabil ban. be deserving, success will find you.