“No more fiendish punishment could be devised than that one should be turned loose in society and remain absolutely unnoticed. If no one turned around when we entered, answered when we spoke, or minded what we did, but if every person we met “cut us dead” and acted as if we were non-existent things, a kind of rage and impotent despair would well up in us”
~ William James.
In India we not only have status based on class, we have it based on caste and also a combination of both. Neither matter under some special “circumstances”.
Let me share a recent story. I had gone to a party where I was introduced to a highflying executive. While his present status was clearly mentioned, mine was simply mentioned as a Senior Citizen of Pune. In fact, the host had no idea whatsoever as to who I was and I was there only because his son wanted to meet me as he had brought a book for me from the USA from another friend.
This executive after exchanging pleasantries disappeared and I did not meet him again that evening.
Last week, I had invited two friends for lunch at my club and we were busy chatting about a project that we are involved in when the same executive happened to pass by and stopped at my table to say hello while his host was delighted to see me there as he had not seen me for a while. It registered on the executive that I too was a member of the club and his entire demeanour changed. He insisted on sharing his visiting card with me and said that he would like to come over and meet me at home. All because I am a member of that club. A status symbol if any thing, and one that explains what status can do to individuals. This incident was still fresh in my mind when I suggested the topic.
Once a tiger entered the washroom in a Corporate Office and hid in a dark corner.
Many people frequented the washroom, after four days it couldn’t bear hunger anymore, so it caught a man who had come in, and ate him.
This man happened to be an Assistant General Manager in the organisation but, nobody noticed his disappearance.
Since nothing untoward happened, the Tiger became bolder and after two days caught another man and ate him.
This man was the General Manager of the organisation.
Still, nobody worried over his disappearance.
Next day, the Tiger caught the Vice President who was a terror in the organisation. Again nothing happened.
Then Tiger caught a man who had entered the washroom while balancing a tray of teacups in one hand.
Within 15 minutes a huge hue and cry ensued, and everyone in the office started looking for the man. The search team reached the washroom, flushed out the Tiger and saved the unconscious man. He was the tea boy in the office.
*It is not the position, but our usefulness to others that makes us loveable and respectable. If your subordinates are happy in your absence that means you are not a perfect leader.*
From the book *Tiger in the Toilet*
This topic has been suggested by me for this week’s Friday 2 on 1 blog posts. Please go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say on the subject.