Thursday, September 1, 2016

Jottings : Slice of life -36 (Part 2)

Jottings : Slice of life -36 (Part 2)
I wrote the first part of this piece when my flight was waiting on the tarmac in DFW airport for signs from Traffic control to take off. The inclement weather delayed the flight for over two hours. Enough time for me to read a little and write about Texas de Brazil. Let me continue.. After we had finished dinner, I noticed for the first time a gentleman sitting towards the other end of the table holding fort, gesticulating wildly and making incisive remarks to a set of rapt individuals. I politely asked my friend near me who he was, and I was told his name was James. He had been an integral part of their group for nearly a decade, helped set up their IT infrastructure. However, he left their organization about year ago due to irreconcilable differences with his managers, and now works as an architect for another IT company in Dallas. It was clear, he was well liked and respected by all for his technical virtuosity. When i turned my attention to him, he was talking about how he shortened the project life cycle by nearly three months the moment he stepped into his new role. He was mocking existing developers for taking two months to learn a new platform, which he claimed, took him ten days. It was obvious, he had good technical command, and the look on his audience faces left room for doubt. They venerated him. They wanted to be like him. Audacious, outspoken , critical, go-getter, willing to risk a respectable career for minor differences ,brash and charismatic. James knew he had his audience in his grip, and he spoke with an authority born from a confidence that whatever he says would taken as an oracle from God himself.
But somehow, I didn't quite feel comfortable with his voice and tone. Not that I am prejudiced, or had formed an opinion of him. After all, I am seeing him for the first time, and even here, in this gathering I noticed his presence only after the noise of dinner was over, and there was short respite from eating and drinking.. So there is no way for me to be biased. What irked me was the manner in which he was speaking disparagingly about his previous organization ( whose Dinner he was incidentally attending). No matter how competent one is, how technically and managerially superior one may be, I dont think it is in right taste to criticize an organization in which one has invested greater part of their lives. James had worked for twenty years before his quit. He joined when he had no credentials or experience, and the atmosphere of this organization had given him the ladder to climb - both personally and professionally. Yes, there comes a point, when you may have to part ways. Thats a decision taken based on several factors. In many cases you outgrow your role, or probably personal circumstances change necessitating a change in Jobs as well. Whatever it is, the growth or movement is only a transition from one state to another. A professional career is a data point on a sloping graph. you cannot have a unsupported dot floating precariously in the middle of axes. It has to be joined to dots before, to account for where it is plotted and seen right now; and the current dot will form the base for where and how the future will be tomorrow.
One of the most destructive aspects of Industrial civilization is that there is no pride or ancestry in our jobs. In earlier times, when a son took over the role of a carpenter from his father, he knew what he was inheriting. There was a history, an accumulated tradition of learning and expectation set for him. But today, Jobs are on sale and we are often not grateful for what we have learnt from previous jobs. Secondly, there is this distinct feeling in every employee that given an opportunity they could be the CEO’s of their organization. Commenting from the sidelines, passing judgements on company decisions over a drink is pretty common sight. James here was doing exactly that. My point is if one is that good, why are they not CEO’s or business leaders already. Or if there is enough gumption in them, they should carve their own path, create their organizations as many in the silicon valley do. That is courage and backbone. When one cannot be that brave, the next best option is to perform the role assigned well, learn from it as assiduously as we can, and then grow up the ladder if possible. There is absolutely no shame in that. James is very symptomatic of modern breed of professionals, who believe their opinions are always the right ones, and any dissent is utterly unacceptable. With ambition to make lots of money, this attitude does not come as a surprise, but an intelligent professional is one, who will quickly settle down and look at the bigger picture.
God bless…
yours in mortality,
Bala

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