IntroductionVenkat (name changed) had a good academic background and had also worked in research capacities with a couple of institutions including the IIM, Ahmedabad. This fetched him a job as a Faculty Member in the Staff Training College of a private-sector bank headquartered in a small town. However, after joining the bank, Venkat did not like many aspects of its culture. He found it very odd that he was often deputed to work in the nearby bank branches as an officer. This lead to tremendous stress and strain, as he did not like the job at all. He wanted to be only posted in the Staff Training College. The Management did not budge an inch and insisted that he should also gather practical experience for his HR training responsibilities in the bank.
After four years, when he was already married, he quit his job and joined an Indian multinational in Mumbai. This turned out to be a disaster, as he had a horrible boss. From thereon, he went on from one job to another and finally retired as a Senior Manager with a big organization. If only Venkat had planned his career far better than what he did, he would have occupied several senior positions. He did one blunder after another. This is a true-life story of a person closely known to me.
Venkat is not alone. There are many like him who have self-destructive habits. In the main, six of these self-destructive habits are:- a) Taking decisions in haste b) Giving too much importance to opinions of either life partner c) Never bothering about saving money d) Getting too much carried away with the official position e) Letting go opportunities to go abroad and f) Going too far on the "native place" obsession.
Taking decisions in hasteThis is a very important self-destructive habit. Venkat in the aforesaid case did not see beyond what he thought was not right. He did not understand that every organization has its own strengths and weaknesses. Hasty decisions are always dangerous. The corporate world is extremely competitive and we need to understand this basic fact. There will be problems everywhere. Decisions to get married, putting one's children in boarding schools, taking too much risk and parking substantial money in risky financial instruments -- the list of hasty decisions is far too complex to be discussed here. Yet we should always understand that hasty decisions only lead us to ruin.
Giving too much importance to opinions of either life partnerIn many cases, we commonly find that either life partner has a big negative influence on the other. The wife controls the husband one hundred percent, more so, if she is from a wealthy family and his in-laws call the shots and vice-versa. Many a good career of women is spoiled by the autocratic behavior of men who would even force their wives to quit their jobs. Those who are extremely successful career women have husbands who had been extremely co-operative. This is of course, quite rare in society.
Never bothering about saving moneyThose who are obsessed with only their career, even when they attain the age of forty, do not save any money. They are least bothered. However, when the bad times come, they are caught off-guard. They would possibly regret their mistake. By then, they would have completed over 75% of their entire working life. It is always wise to save substantial amounts when one is very young. Term life insurance should start at the age of 23 and not 45. If one follows the earlier strategy, the premium would be small. It would be eminently affordable and would stay the same for the entire premium paying period. If one starts at 45, he or she would be doomed.
Even the smallest amounts saved and parked in recurring deposits will mean much on a later date. The inflation will simply eat us up at any point in time. With the advent of COVID-19, the need to save money right now is even more pronounced than ever before. Let bygones be bygones. It is time to start a new life, anew. Right now.
Getting too much carried away with the official positionMr. Aditya, a chartered accountant by profession, came up with very intelligent strategies to save money and the Management was impressed with his leadership qualities. He was soon appointed as the Vice-President of the Strategic Business Unit at a remote location. Since the township was attached to the main factory in the rural location, the setting was perfect for Mr.Aditya to follow his paternalistic approach. He would mercilessly crush any opposition. His focus was always on the bottom line. The Managing Director was highly impressed and he had many opportunities to go abroad and devise strategies for the continued success of the plant.
Those who fell in line were rewarded with increments and promotions. His word was law. He was too intelligent for the trade union and the settlements signed were always in favor of the Management. The local police and the other Government officials also fell in line. He had advanced permission from the Management to "take care" of any person creating trouble. Black money from the top management helped him to maintain very good external relationships.
However, Mr. Aditya's style was resented by many senior managers. The owner-manager of the MD came back to India after his MBA in London and quickly understood the problem. Mr. Aditya was transferred to the Mumbai office and the problem for him was that his own set of cronies told the new Management about his weaknesses. Every Tom Dick and Harry who were enemies of Mr. Aditya were against him as well. When he rarely visited the plant, he never had the respect once given to him. He fell from grace.
This is exactly what can happen when success goes to one's head and he or she starts reading too much on the influence of his or her official position. There is nothing that is permanent in this transitory world. Every human being has to retire one day. There is nothing called as permanent fame or money. When reality hits one very hard, it will become too late. Hence, it is always wise to have a balance and not go too far in one's work life and the position power that goes along with it.
Letting go opportunities to go abroadIt is unwise to think of India as a country that was once relatively isolated from the rest of the world and exports were bare minimum. Today, we are part of a global village. The best careers are possible for professionals who are forward-looking and optimistic as well. Today, the need to milk any opportunity to migrate abroad and take up new courses to study and then specialize in a global environment is now pronounced than ever before.
Let us accept facts as facts. For instance, the London School of Economics is the best research center in the world. It has produced too many economists who have gone on to do world-class research. If one gets an opportunity to work abroad and he or she has an economics background, it will still be a great idea to take a sabbatical and do a doctorate from this elite institution. Today, the opportunities to specialize in any field are global and it is unwise to be in India, on the "be Indian, buy Indian" philosophy. It is an outdated philosophy. Even most of the products that we use have come from the USA. For example, most of the internet facilities that we enjoy today come from Google. The world's best laptops come from Apple Computers. Artificial intelligence and related technologies are still controlled by US corporations. Hence, we should always use any opportunity to go abroad.
Going too far on the "native place" obsessionTake the case of HR or Finance professionals. Or those with substantial years of work experience in mechanical maintenance. This class of professionals, among others, would spend even two decades working with one single factory manufacturing cement or sugar, only because that location is near their "native place". This obsession of "native place", it should be noted, is good for an emotional and sometimes a bit of a financial cushion, but nothing else. The children of such professionals would relatively lack the vital exposure to many things and would be fish out of water when exposed to metro or urban realities.
There is a limit to this "native place' obsession. It can be highly self-destructive and we better understand that in every way.
ConclusionBased on personal observation of a few close friends of mine and what I have seen in the wider experience of mine over three decades, certain self-destructive habits have been discussed in some detail. The habits are not exhaustive, but only indicative. As human beings, we all do mistakes that emanate from self-destructive habits. However, we need to learn from such mistakes. The sooner we do it, the better for all of us.
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My appreciations to the author. I have seen many such people who got their career spoiled like this without thinking in a correct way. One of my friends who did a PhD with me wanted to stay near his native place. So he joined in a Limited Company in the private sector near his native place and he retired there as General Manager. If he was prepared to come out of that native place feeling, he might have gone up in the ladder.
An important point one should remember is that the success we have achieved as on a date is not permanent and it should not get into our minds that we are successful. If you are not able to maintain balance today, you may stand to lose.
Another thing we should know is that management will have multiple sources for getting their work done and whom they would rely on is never predictable. I know a company in Hyderabad which is a very big group. In the finance department, even though there is a Vice President, all the transactions of cash were being done through a relative of the MD and he would never yield to anybody. One should be able to assess the situation every moment and what is the best option at that time is to be seen. Otherwise, we will fail in our career.