Friday, July 08, 2005

Political Animals in the Corporate Zoo

Political Animals in the Corporate Zoo

In the corporate world, you have to deal with many different types of people. No two person think alike; so disagreements, often leading to animosity can easily occur. Those who happen to share certain common interests or opinion will form cliques among themselves.

Factionalism will inevitably arise, anywhere, anyhow once the number of people achieves a certain critical mass. Everyone, either consciously or unconsciously, works for their own self interest first. They cluster into cliques not only because they feel more comfortable among like-minded people but it also helps them to promote their own self-interest. The existence of cliques leads to power struggles and factional politics. Hence, politics in the office is something that is ultimately inevitable.

Now, why can't one stay clear of any office politics? Well, maybe you can go to office everyday and just do what you are supposed to do and go home. Such a situation can exist, but only for a very short while. And during this time it'll be very peaceful because you won't have any enemies to worry about. The drawback is that, you won't have any close friends either--because you don't belong to any cliques. All you have are casual office acquaintances.

You can adopt this "mind your own business" attitude only if you are lucky enough to have a boss who thinks that your existing contributions meet his or her expectations. But you do not have the luxury of only working for one boss for the rest of your corporate life. Nothing remains static in the corporate world: you or your boss could get promoted, or get assigned to a new role (which is more "challenging").

So you end up with a new department and a new boss. He or she might have very different ideas on what's expected of you. You may think that you are doing a wonderful job but your boss could still come to you and say: "That's not what I expected you to do. You should be focussing more on this, this, and this..."

Now, this shouldn't be a problem if you immediately fine-tune your work to meet the boss' expectation. But you are reluctant to do so, simply because you'd rather operate in your comfort zone--doing things that you are already doing so well.

You continue doing what you do also because there are others who happen to praise your contribution. Slowly and imperceptibly, you begin to mingle more with them. Then you realize that there are also a few others who share the same opinion and work-style as you. And there, you have a clique already. And during tea-time you group together to talk bad about the bosses and people from other cliques.

I see these things occuring again and again in all the companies that I've worked for. One is always--either directly or indirectly--involved in office politics, whether one likes it or not. Thank God I'm out of all that now. And I certainly have no desire to return to any large multi-national company anymore, no matter how good the pay and the perks are.

It's much better to be scavenging for food in the wild than to be cooped up in a corporate zoo, with those well-fed political animals.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Test of True Love

The Test of True Love

Romantic love is usually selfish but it is a good starting point for one to learn about love. How else could one transcend selfishness unless one has suffered its painful consequences?

Is it possible for one to have a romantic relationship without experiencing pain? Why can't a relationship be a hundred percent blissful all the way?

I would say, this is only possible if couples live in a controlled lab environment. In real life, we are exposed to the vicissitudes of everyday living. You are like a boat tossed about in the sea, exposed to the winds and currents. When you form a relationship with someone, you are actually merging two "networks" together, and not two individual "nodes". You need to deal with an entire network of interlocking relationships -- family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances from each side.

In other words, a romantic relationship is not an affair between two people but a very complex web of interactions between two systems of forces. Expecting your partner to isolate herself from her network is not going to be possible nor practical. Your partner is defined by both by her own personal qualities and also the qualities of her network. You have to take the whole thing or nothing at all.

Those who understand the dynamics of the forces involved, can do slightly better in romantic relationships because they face less disappointments. They set their expectations right from the very beginning. Those who don't have to learn the hard way; but then again this is the whole point of having a relationship--to learn, evolve and better ourselves.

We suffer pain because we all are inherently imperfect creatures. These imperfections exhibit themselves as selfishness. We want our partners to behave in certain ways, based on what we think is right. But is it really?

Now, if we relent to our partner's wishes too much, we also fear that they, driven by their own selfishness will take advantage of us. We are always, consciously or unconsciously, trying to manipulate people whom we perceive to be weaker than us. So a romantic relationship is also a power struggle, between two sides to impose dominance over the other because each side fears losing control. Fear and selfishness--the two most destructive forces at work in the universe.

True love is something that is very difficult to define. All lovers claim that they know what love is and that the love they feel inside for their partner is true and pure. To me, true love is very simple: let's just start by eliminating fear and selfishness in any relationship.

Try doing two key things well: Care for your loved one without expecting anything in return--selflessness; have complete trust in your partner--fearlessness. It is often a life-long task, but If you can succeed in eliminating these two factors in your relationship, what remains is love--true, pure and simple.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Residue of Emotions

The Residue of Emotions

I wrote in a previous entry that forgiving someone is nothing but good emotional management. Why do we want to accumulate negative emotions inside us and let them consume our resources unnecessarily?

A lot of us walk around with too much pent up anger and hatred. The pent-up emotions between family members or loved ones determine our lives to a great deal. Such relationships are often shaped equally by both love and hatred. We hate someone so much because we love them even more. Our expectations are so high and when they are shattered, the pain is too much for us to bear.

Do not let emotions accumulate. They are just waves of reaction, felt in the body, resulting from a thought or action. If you see it that way, you will realize that emotions are but transient things. All anger comes as a wave and fades away like the ebbing tide. The tumult of romantic love is like that too. What we need to accumulate is the distilled wisdom which every experience brings.

Let each emotional experience fade away naturally before taking on the next one. That way, you have the opportunity to decipher its inner lessons. What each emotional wave brings is wisdom, like nuggets of gold left behind on the riverbed of the mind. Take every experience in life, feel the vibratory qualities of its emotion but do not get washed and carried away.

Emotions will always come and go, but wisdom, the residue of emotions, remains forever.