Hubris

Dictionary.com defines Hubris (n) as excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance.

In order to understand this word better, lets take the example of the great French ruler, Napoleon Bonaparte.

One of the most brilliant individuals in history, Napoleon Bonaparte was a masterful soldier, an unequalled grand tactician and a superb administrator. He was also utterly ruthless, a dictator and, later in his career, thought he could do no wrong.

It was Napolean’s hubris that constituted to his fall. But think about this in today’s world. All around me, I see many who thrive on it. They display their smallest and the most minuscule achievements with such pomp that one is left in a limbo -am I to applaud or ignore? Sometimes all of it feels so empty that it feels that the individual is over emphasizing his/her credentials in order to cover those faults and inadequacies that seem to be bothering them.

But then again, anyone who has worked knows that whether one has the worth or not, it is the selling that matters.

  • How well do you manage to portray yourself in front of your superiors?
  • Are you a well rounded individual? (However small those extras might be it still helps)
  • Do you manage to put your hand in everything that is happening around you? (This supposedly equals involvement and commitment)

I find a lot of these things a sham but I cannot deny them either. In order to excel hubris helps deal with all of it that happens. Portraying oneself in a good light is required, how else would your boss notice you amidst all the competition. The key is probably maintaining that thin line and not crossing it. Not getting totally involved in every exaggeration that you put out for the world. Else, the end is not far.

That proves it, that anything in a good measure helps and excess of it is harmful.

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A Reply

This morning S asked me to find an online copy of Atlas Shrugged and it wasn’t tough to find one. He was interested in a particular section and when he sent the extract over, my mind felt refreshed!

  • I remembered why I love her writing so much.
  • I fell in love with Ayn Rand once again.
  • I could verbalise one of the reasons why I left Infosys.
  • I remembered those moments when I felt lonely at work.
  • I realised how much I hate mediocrity.

So here goes the extract from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged –

Miss Taggart, do you know the hallmark of the second-rater? It’s resentment of another man’s achievement. Those touchy mediocrities who sit trembling lest someone’s work prove greater than their own—they have no inkling of the loneliness that comes when you reach the top. The loneliness for an equal— for a mind to respect and an achievement to admire. They bare their teeth at you from out of their rat holes, thinking that you take pleasure in letting your brilliance dim them—while you’d give a year of your life to see a flicker of talent anywhere among them. They envy achievement, and their dream of greatness is a world where all men have become their acknowledged inferiors. They don’t know that that dream is the infallible proof of mediocrity, because that sort of world is what the man of achievement would not be able to bear. They have no way of knowing what he feels when surrounded by inferiors—hatred? no, not hatred, but boredom the terrible, hopeless, draining, paralyzing boredom. Of what account are praise and adulation from men whom you don’t respect? Have you ever felt the longing for someone you could admire? For something, not to look down at, but up to?

PS: The post is dedicated to S who sent it and ‘S2‘ whom I love and look up to and admire. Also to all those whom I respect.

Decision

I am glad that I took time to decide what I really wanted to do. It is never easy for an individual to find out what he/she really wishes to do. For many, it is a matter of chance that they come upon something that they enjoy and stick doing it. Very few, actually realise their dream or rather their calling right at the outset of their life.

In my case, the shift to being a Corporate Trainer has been very thought out process which took up a lot of my energies. But, at the end of it all I like what I am doing right now. I was asked -What is my ‘Legacy’? I figured that legacy is something that we would want others to know us as and one doesn’t have to wait decades before they claim to have a legacy. Simply put, it is a culmination of your passion, goals and ethics to live up to what you truly believe in and want to be. It is a continuos process of self-realization that can help an individual to either work at his/her goals and to make sure they are on the right path, both personally and professionally. 

I have realised some aspects and I am working at many more and this new year will see work on a lot of them. 

Believing that this new year, you will also find all that you genuinely want…

Happy New Year – 2009!

Rat-race

I did try to keep up the post a month for October, but got so terribly busy with my new job that I am yet to find time for anything apart from work. A phase and once I settle down, I can be much more regular. These days, one can find me out of home, in trains and with a lappy than being at home. Quite a rat-race! I miss my peace but seem to be enjoying this rush too 🙂

I Heard A Who

A movie was released sometime this year called ‘Dr Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who’. Though I didn’t get to see the movie, I gathered the story from the trailers and later read the reviews. As a child it fascinated me and made me think that a dust speck could be a being in itself, or there could be something or someone on it. When I learnt the existence of microscopic organisms, I attributed amoeba, protoplasm, etc flying about me. Little did I then know about what Dr. Seuss wrote.  So the movie plot in a single sentence is – Horton the Elephant struggles to protect a microscopic community (called Whos) from his neighbors who refuse to believe it exists.

One doesn’t realize what all exists in a place or for that matter about a thing, till one gets to experience it or know about it in greater detail. It was true even in my case, until I visited Harvard and MIT campuses. The mere fact of visiting those campuses was awe-inspiring and overwhelming; saddened me to a great extent too. Fortunately, I got an opportunity to enroll myself in a course that I wanted to explore for a long time, through the Harvard Extension School. Due to a number of reasons that I thought would help me build a new career, I took up a course in Organizational Behavior.

My class constituted of students from various nationalities spread across the world. The primary set was Americans, but the class had a very good representation from the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. The sheer diversity amazed me. This was the first time that I was studying with such a varied set. Coming to the course material and the way it was handled, it was nothing like the way in which the Indian Education System works. One has to think and apply and express. One doesn’t have to by-heart theories, instead apply them and internalize. I felt that I have probably wasted a lot of my years studying subjects in which I could have excelled, had the teaching methodology been different and freedom of thought and application was possible. All in all a very enriching experience and the course duration simply flew past me. It made me feel very good, as I felt that I did a course that I wanted to do and because it mattered to me and not simply because it was part of the course to achieve some degree. It was true knowledge.

A lot has been said about the Indian Higher Education System and I would like to add my tuppence to it. I feel that young adults aged 16-17 years cannot possibly decide as to what subjects they should take and what they should specialize in. The four year undergraduate degree (outside India), gives an opportunity to the student to test and try various subjects, as varied from Quantum Physics to Psychology and then decide as to what one wants to finally specialize in the Master’s course. Most of the people whom I meet here in India, say they did their engineering because they were never clear about options then and went with the flow. In fact, four out of five Indians in my class at Harvard were engineers. This system of education should change and it is enough of British Raj we have clung on to, its time we moved with the times.

So, I knew about the speck and was lucky to have experienced the workings of that world. Someday, I hope that it would be an obvious offering in our country too.

Clarity.

 

There always seem to be a thousand and one things to be done at any given time. To prioritize and most importantly to have a clarity on what exactly should be done is I think most important.

Clarity in thought, clarity in action is one seemingly simple but elusive thing, just like common sense which is unfortunately is not so common. When I talk about clarity here, I am talking about the clarity in career, the clarity to choose a life-partner or if one delves deeper then the clarity to have a life-partner or not and so on. These are few but pertinent things that do seem to affect the majority of the humanity. More often than not, one is always in the lack of such clarity. It is a case of sheer happiness and pleasure to meet someone who knows what he/she wants; how would they want their life to be and what does one foresee life to be. Whether they are able to execute their plans and achieve them is a totally different story, but at least there is the reasoning that they had an idea and tried.

Boredom often causes disillusionment and this has been something I have been hearing a lot from many of my friends and acquaintances whom I have met in the recent past. I must admit that having been plagued with a certain amount of boredom myself, with respect to my career I have taken up this so called holiday for myself from work. I realized I needed sometime to think about what I like, what am I good at and what would I really want to do with my life and get some clarity. Yes, I do need some too.  

I have always been a firm believer of the fact that a crux of a person should never change but the outer package must freshen itself on a constant basis to keep boredom at bay. This wrapper change keeps relationships in tact and most importantly keeps the person within you also happy. After all, we are doing all this for our own happiness. Altruism is something I don’t really believe in. I have had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine on this and upon retrospection I have no choice but to concur with her. She said that if one tries to please someone else or is doing something for the other person’s happiness then in turn that person is doing it for their own self. Obviously, if you see your loved one happy, you know you are going to be happy.

What I intend to say or rather post a question is that when one realizes that he/she is doing something that bores one and you don’t have an idea as to what to do next or are looking for the clarity to know what you could do best, how and where do you start looking? Any answers/clues, most welcome.