Proving right or winning

You know that you are a matured person when you can be right without proving the other person wrong. This way you can avoid inner conflict because you realize in the end that inner peace is far more important than proving that you are right. However, people get lured by their ego to prove themselves right at any cost to satiate their egos that they forget their primary objective of moving on to get their things done and getting ahead is forgotten !! Haven’t we heard of the phrase “Winning the battle but losing the war !!” Battles are usually short term and wars are long term. Here battle is a metaphor for proving ourselves right and satisfying the ego and war is a metaphor of achieving our primary objective and moving on. However we have to be doing the right things and not slacken.

The importance of remembering bedtime stories that parents tell their children cannot be more pertinent if we start implementing them in our lives. One of the stories goes like this – Once there was a village that had a river in between. The villagers built a narrow bridge to cross it. One day one goat was crossing the bridge and half way it faced another goat was approaching from the other side. There wasn’t much space for the two of them to cross one another. Both the goats waited for the other to turn back but none of them relented. One goat said “ I am older than you, so let me pass first.” The other goat said,” But I came first” and the arguments led to a bitter fight since none of them wanted to compromise their positions. Soon their arguments turned into blows and one goat stuck the other with its horns, the other goat retaliated. The fight was intense and soon both the goats lost their balance, they fell into the river and were washed away by the currents.

After some time two more goats met in the middle of the bridge coming from the opposite direction. This time one of the goats thought for a while and said,” the bridge is narrow and both of us cannot cross at the same time, so I will lie down and you carefully walk over me. The other goat realized that this was the most sensible thing to do. He appreciated the other goat’s wisdom. The wise goat lay on the bridge and the other goat walked over him and both of them reached the other sides. They were across each other and they were across the bridge !! What mattered more was crossing the bridge and not who crossed first. The moral of the story is that anger and ego leads to destruction while humility leads to fulfillment.

Akhilesh was a VP - Sales in a Corporate company. In the first quarter of the business calendar he had not met the sales target on all the five verticals he was looking after – Banking, Insurance, Healthcare, Manufacturing and Education since business was sluggish. He was quite confident that he would catch up in the next quarter and perhaps even exceed the target should he receive a sizeable marketing budget. After all it was global recession and it applied to all businesses uniformly. He had not slackened but the general mood was not favouring sales. He was certain that with a little marketing and advertising campaign he would certainly perform well in the next quarter.

In the review meeting to discuss the status of the business all the heads of departments were present – Marketing, Finance, Operations, HR and IT. It was Akhilesh’s turn. He had made power points with graphs, excel sheets with numbers and was thorough with the figures with his area of work. The meeting was going on well when suddenly the CFO said, “ Mr Akhilesh, somehow I get the feeling that you have not done your work well in manufacturing division.

Akhilesh was not quite prepared for this comment. He rebuked saying that “with so many setbacks in the manufacturing division which by itself is a tough department to handle gets compounded due to the fact that payments are delayed because the finance department had delayed payments due to the party.” He further added saying “You are immensely wrong Mr CFO.” You guys sit in flower bedded seats on the top floor with no clue as to what is taking place in the real world. You should limit the distance and move to the floor below. The CFO was offended and expressed sharp disapproval of the way Akhilesh was handling things as Akhilesh’s rebuke set his head spinning.

The Chairman adjourned the meeting with a coffee break to break the impasse. However the mood was not different after the coffee break and the standoff between the two was palpable. The “Joie the vivre” was lost as well as the focus and discuss strategies to move. So much is the power of negative emotions that strangulates the very joy of life. At the beginning of the meeting everyone was with Akhilesh but after his backlash and faceoff with the CFO everyone started agreeing to the CFO’s point of view. Akhilesh’s marketing budget was further reduced at the end of the meeting. There were even talks that he would transferred.

If we consider why things went hay wire, the reason is the response of the VP – Marketing to a cursory comment by the CFO that the manufacturing division had not done well. However the CFO had indirectly conveyed that the other departments had done well. Akhilesh had four options in front of him as a response to his assumed transgression by the CFO. 1. He could have agreed straightaway since that was a fact. 2. He could have disagreed politely. 3. He could have asked the CFO, “ Sir, can you kindly help organizing this?” 4. He could have smilingly moved to the next point in the agenda without disagreeing. Reacting and wanting to prove that he was Right and not able to deal with the stressful situation proved to be the breaking point for Akhilesh who was considering to tender a resignation letter even as the best way out.

As in the goats story when you are crossing a narrow bridge with an opponent on the other side it helps to retrace your steps back and allow your opponent to cross, leaving him bemused and you cross subsequently !! The sure certain way to invalidate people who confront you is to agree with them. This really shakes them and leaves them distracted. Crossing the bridge is important, does not matter who crosses first !! It’s not a race. It’s a point of view. It’s a perspective. It’s an attitude. However we should always prove to ourselves that we are doing the Right thing and keep moving towards our goal.