Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Matter Of Interpretation

Company management, in an effort to keep us motivated sends us emails like the one below… Read on…

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the construction business and live a more leisurely life with his wife while enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.

The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career.

When the carpenter finished his work and the builder came to inspect the house, the contractor handed the front door key to the carpenter. "This is your house," he said, "my gift to you." What a shock! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he had built none too well.

So it is with us. We build our lives, reacting rather than acting, willing to put up less than the best. Then with a shock we look at the situation we have created and find that we are now living in the house we have built. If we had realized the outcome, we would have done it differently.

Think of yourself as the carpenter. Think about your house. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall, build wisely.

It is the only life you will ever build. Even if you live it for only one day more, that day deserves to be lived graciously and with dignity.

Remember, "Life is a do-it-yourself project."

Beautiful story methinks!


It’s amazing how people can churn stories, theories, arguments, anecdotes to prove their point, to justify what they do, to persuade others to act in a certain way.
Certainly, where there is a will, there is a way!

Not that I don’t agree with the moral of the story above. But I am amused by the many different ways in which a free thinker, not easily influenced by persuasive people and societies may choose to interpret this!

The fact that this message is coming from an Indian IT company that perennially presses people to work overtime, pays very little, cuts corners and is now trying extract some more by circulating ‘inspirational messages’ such as this, is all the more a reason why you should try to interpret it in a way that the management does not intend you to!

The following is my advice...

Build the right life – First of all, find your true calling. If your true calling is to paint or write poems, do not do carpentry or software programming for 30 years of your life! And if you have to do it(like most of the software programmers who are not in love with programming), do as little of it as you can! Go home early!

Build not structures but meaning – If you have been doing copy – paste work in most of your software projects (for companies like Wal-Mart who want a software to sell more cheese pizzas and diet coke to already obese people), you know how meaningless your job is…so don’t try to excel in it… join painting classes to add colour and meaning to your life!

Build the best – Let not some boss decide what is best for you. Let not your building aim at satisfying a person other than yourself! You build what is best for YOU!

Build for value – Build not for money ! Ask how your work/building is making the world a better place!

Build everyday – if you are building what you like and what is meaningful, do not seek retirement!
Retire everyday – if the above condition is not true in your case, then retire every day. Do not wait until building is over!

And generally…
Build as little as you can – Any reduction in human activity is good for the environment!

As I said….. it’s a matter of interpretation!!!


jose said...

Nice thought...
I'm not sure whether this story would ever inspire an IT professional to work harder though :)

Satish said...

Managment Fundas..... There is one story, one example for all the gyan that is given. The point is how well you can fabricate it, so that is acccepted by and large.... One day when each one of us go high up in the coprorate ladder, we too will be saying stories and not necessarily like the one mentioned here.....

I am not a techie, so cannot on how the Indian IT companies function.Nonetheless, i have seen few of them encouraging the inherent talent of its employees

I agree to your point that we should not build for the sake of building without attaching any meaning to it... Be it building structures, our careers or our lives

One comic i recomend to see the irony/comic in managment fundas is Dibert... Sure it will bring a laugh or two....