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FLORENCE     Florence –  the capital of the Tuscany region and the cradle of Renaissance   We opted for Flix Bus while traveling from Venice to Florence. The road journey takes about three and a half-hour. In Florence, it terminates at the rear end of Santa Maria Novella (SMN) train station. One of Italy’s busiest stations, it got its name from Santa Maria Novella Church just across the plaza from the main entrance. We debarked at the station and refreshed ourselves at McDonald's before hiring a cab for our hotel. Florence, popularly known as ‘Firenze’ by the Italians, is located in central Italy. This dreamy city with a romantic name is the regional capital of the lovely Tuscany region.   Columbus Hotel, where we stayed, is located in Lugarno District. We always prefer to book our hotels through Booking.com as we always land up getting good hotels at good locations. Despite being a little away from the heart of the city and Santa Maria Novella station


 REAL-TIME SUCCESS                                                                                                                                     N. JAYARAMAN

Much to my chagrin, I have often come across instances when some  people interacting with me choose to subconsciously place me at an elevated level, absolutely not  commensurate  with  my present worth, intellectual or physical,  if any. I guess, by virtue of  the position  I might have occupied, once upon a time,  by default,  in one or two  organizations,  for a certain time, people tend to do so, which does not, ipso facto, contribute anything to my inner worth or IQ. That would have remained stagnant at a particular point or rather declined with advancing age, medical side effects or God knows what.  

It is also not necessary that all those people, who have something to do or not to do with me, have to be compared with me, on one parameter or the other, every now and then. But on certain occasions, consciously or otherwise, this practice is resorted to by people, whether it serves them any purpose or not. Perhaps, it has something to do with some psychological issues, which I am not sure of. It is not of much concern to me though it might be to some others, presumably.

I sometimes think that irrespective of the inherent merit or worth of individuals, people in the middle-class bracket particularly; pursue different activities or vocations just to eke out their living with comfort and happiness. Some choose a particular field, by default, which suits them and some pursue a course which neither suits them nor do they like it and keep changing till they find themselves in a quandary, to start again from square one. There are plenty of examples. Like for instance, someone succeeds as a sportsperson, someone does not. Someone succeeds as a Lawyer, someone does not. So on and so forth.

What prompted me to write this piece is that the other day, I sent a small mail to an old friend of mine, remembering and appreciating his long and old association with me and thanking him for being a good friend in good and bad times. He wrote back thanking me profusely and also stating that he was obliged to be in the company of a senior official   (he doesn’t know how stupid I was though somewhat improved now, with greying hairs, I believe !) being his friend, though he is pretty small, in comparison and all those things. In the heart of hearts, I know that both of us are more or less equally educated and probably have the same level of IQ, with a rider that if a competitive exam is conducted tomorrow, on a professional subject, probably he would beat me squarely in that without any doubt. Hope, no authority is listening, for if they really do it, I am pretty sure all those so-called Executives, occupying cozy corner cabins,   would be exposed beyond recognition, just like me, because the juniors in the field would knock them down in every single Department, e.g. batting, bowling or fielding, even umpiring.  But what prompted him to place me on a superior scale is just by virtue of my retiring at a somewhat better level than him, which might have happened due to multiple, inexplicable factors not related to merit alone, which I firmly affirm, I am far away from. The reason is not far to seek.  I might have made use of some opportunities or freebies for upward movement which he would have shrugged off due to some compelling reasons, if not by choice.  But people just do what their heart dictates without really knowing what is right and what is not. It is just providence that guides every individual to do what he does at a given point of time and for those who believe in Karma, it is what rules the roost.

Ending one’s career in a lower or higher rank is not all that counts in one’s life. Maybe it is an ego satisfying tool and gives a sense of accomplishment in the materialistic world, which is a transitory phenomenon. The appreciation and the accolades received from friends and society may add to the aura of the individual undoubtedly, but where it will end up no one can predict. At this point, it may be relevant to draw upon Peter Principle, an accepted concept in Management which observes that people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their ‘level of incompetence’. An employee is promoted based on his success in previous jobs until he reaches a level at which he no longer remains competent, as skills in one job do not translate to another. The theory further explains that an Executive keeps on moving upwards up to a level, where he stops growing, and maybe his productivity tends to decline or the quality of output declines. Though this cannot be generalized, nevertheless the theory works in a large number of targets based Corporates and is a part of the curriculum. In our country, it is not uncommon to find cases where CMDs and EDs have had to vacate offices or given the pink slips due to omissions or commissions or both. In some cases, Investigative Agencies run the extra mile to prove or investigate allegations, even when they don’t smell a rat. And the whole country is agog with fabricated stories, duly compounded by the exuberant media, the anchors of some of which keep howling, 24/7: ‘the country wants to know….’

On the other hand, when we look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs like Food, Shelter, etc. Self-Actualization comes at the end, which one can achieve at a point when one can put a cap on one’s needs and wants or can crystallize where to put a full stop.  Self-Actualization enhances the well-being of the individual which is the sine qua non for a satisfied and meaningful life. That varies from person to person. I would like to mention the instance of a friend who was a Supervisor in an MNC.  But his children were gems of students who excelled as Gold Medalists in MBBS and Engineering and later became Research Scholars in Ivy League Colleges in the US.  I also know of the son of another retired GM of a Bank, whose son was after his father’s money after his retirement. So it all depends. No one-size-fits-all formula applies.

We have also witnessed that success of an individual is different from the success of a family. For instance, a person might have reached the pinnacle of success or glory, but his ward might be languishing to find a foothold in the corporate corridor or in any other field, even after several attempts.  At the same time, it is not uncommon to find that the son or daughter of a vegetable vendor or an Auto driver has qualified as an IAS and getting posted as DM.  I know one Doctorate in Economics who retired as a Scale One Officer from a nationalized bank, but his son was a celebrated IFS Officer. Therefore, can it be said that his knowledge or IQ was any lesser than the super bosses he was reporting to from time to time for over three decades. It is altogether another matter that his articles used to be published in leading world magazines. There are some qualified Officers like CAs, Cost Accountants and Engineers from prestigious Colleges, who retire from relatively lower ranks in comparison with simple graduates in Humanities who make it to the top positions, which does not guarantee extraordinary caliber, to the best of my understanding.

Now, reverting to the original issue, merely on the basis of an individual reaching a particular rank in the management echelon does not necessarily add any intrinsic value to his faculty, which remains almost constant at a level at which he would have finished his  education or joined the organization, in a junior or senior capacity, leave aside the experience part.  What happens afterward is just a matter of chance or accident or opportunity or destiny or all of them combined, including some more invisible factors.

The same way, we have often seen highly capable and qualified people, retiring in relatively lower ranks. But I am sure, they know their priorities. They focus on better health, steady income, peace of mind, better family dispensation, concentrate on education of their children and become successful in their own ways.  

The fundamental issue  is  how to attain  Self Actualization which is the most important factor and once one can find it at whatever stage of life, satisfaction ensues, which cannot be evaluated in terms of status or height or weight or complexion or any such mundane matter or influenced by any external force.

Again, just because someone is not in the rat race cannot be interpreted as a case of ineligibility or incompetence or even negligence. Similarly, it cannot be assumed that all people reaching the top Executive positions reach there solely on the basis of proven competence or excellence in their previous career path, without any exception. While the    Mountaineers, who scale mighty peaks, make and break records, nobody remembers the Sherpas, let alone hail them. Nevertheless, they prefer remaining calm and quiet as the untiring navigators of the treacherous mountains. They are also loved, perhaps, in some folklore poems….!    In those hills……!!


N. JAYARAMAN / 10.05.2020 / KOLKATA

98314-12836 / njrnetwork@gmail.com


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