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25 Sep

Issue 182 - Editorial

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Issue 182 - Editorial

Expectations

Great Expectations was the title of a very famous novel, his thirteenth, by Charles Dickens. This column is not about that epic novel. Nevertheless there are some real life situations that strike a parallel to the experiences of PIP the protagonist of that novel.

 

Nowadays, practically everyone has expectations from themselves and the persons around them who are their family members, associates, team members or political party. These short and long term expectations are mostly expressed as financial goals or outcomes, thanks to the primacy of money in our lives. The question arises whether financial and market driven expectations should alone drive our lives.

 

Unfortunately, even education is no more for enlightenment but entirely based on what a degree or qualification can fetch in the employment market. Parents want to make sure that their child will be employable and make it big monetarily, to hell with his aptitude or passion. That explains the bee line for an MBA degree. Modern management thinkers and financial wizards

have their share in contributing to this mind set where the bottom line is everything. To them even creativity, inventions and innovations should be driven and conditioned only by financial outcome.

 

Expectations are not always realistic. Each one works hard to achieve his/her personal expectations. If a leaders expectation relates to performance by his team or party similar to a corporate or political scenario, he motivates them to try and do their best. He issues instructions and commands and closely monitors and controls them to achieve the target. He admonishes or punishes them if the goal is not achieved. The subordinates or followers are expected to follow their superiors commands diligently so that the boss’s expectations are realised.

 

A simple expectation is easily fulfilled. The resulting joy is however short lived and ends with a celebration. Fulfilment incrementally leads to a greater, more complex expectation. The game goes on. For example, in the corporate world a new business first seeks a break-even in the short run. Next it seeks higher profitability. The next expectation is to maximise profits. Finally the goal        is to be number one with the lions share of the market and then to crush competitors or buy them out to become a monopoly. The next goal is to enter other lines of business.

Complex expectations can trigger impatience, doubt, anxiety, suspicion, intolerance and loss of temper arising from fear of failure. All this can take away the joy of work. If an expectation is not fulfilled, everyone is disappointed. Accountability is fixed and the so called non-performers are punished. Failure causes frustration and depression. It affects future performance, creates friction among team members and triggers blame game. Even collective failure is pinned on one or two scapegoats at the lowest level who have no strength to defend. The basic

 

premise is that


the boss is always


right. His goals are sacrosanct. The whole army of subordinates rallies round the leader for he can do no wrong. They need him more than he needs them. He has power and access to resources. They must defend him and even make sacrifices to further his cause and ambitions.

 

 

This is a generic analysis of what an expectation leads to. Failure leads to misery. Success leads to greed and higher expectations until one day it becomes unattainable and the bubble bursts. But the process continues. New bubbles begin to form and take the place of the burst bubble.

 

To move away from this fanatical approach we need to live our life pursuing our dreams and passion without setting rigid targets and material expectations. That will provide real joy in what we are doing and promote creativity. No student will study medicine or engineering only to make more money. Nor will everyone want to be an MBA. Let us not condition our mind to slavish pursuits. Let not parents convert their children into robots. Let us remember that the greatest creative geniuses, scientists and thinkers and distinguished men of art and fine art that the world has produced were not MBAs, but simply passionate dreamers. They all dreamt success, but without a bottom line target.

 

In this context Bhag Milkha Bhag is a film to watch. This is the story of how a 12 year refugee from Pakistan, the ?Flying Sikh? Milkha Singh who had seen his parents slain in front of him, overcame his shock and trauma to emerge a world record holder in 400meters. It should be an eye opener to all of us. He was fired by his dying father’s desperate call to him Bhag Milkha, Bhag! to escape the merciless fanatical killers.

 

 

There have been many more movies that have only shown youngsters taking to crime because of adverse circumstances in their childhood. Maybe Bhag Milkha Bhag reflects my own expectations of a new gen..to face life with positive expectations!