Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ‘Don’t say things. What you are stands over you the while, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.’
Things have changed since 1864 from the time he felt that what you actually ‘are’ is more important than what you ‘say’.
Today it has more to do with what we say rather than what we are or what we do.
Gone are the days when people used to know you before they judge you. Just like the ‘fast food fad,’ we too are ‘fast forwarding’ the judging stage. Face value is given more importance than ever before. ‘On your face’ advertisements, be it for products or for jobs and promotions are here to stay if the recent changes in the marketing strategy and research are to be believed.
Researchers led by Northwestern University in their studies found that women’s tendency to downplay their successes vis-a-vis the men who overstate their own ability is the reason why the latter is more frequently selected as group leaders. It is disheartening to know that we have lost the ability to judge people before placing them or giving them their due and are banking on their marketing ability rather than the real one needed for the job. But then we did not need research to say this. The people who had been on the receiving end of the stick would have been vociferous only to be told that their muttering was reminiscent of ‘sour grapes’.
People used to appreciate the quieter souls who were the ones who were the backbones of the small unit, the ones who did the onerous task of running the household or the village. People hardly expected them to be voluble yet they came to them to sort any issues of discord. My grandfather, a mathematics professor was actually a man of few words.
I think only his students who found math difficult faced his ire. Maybe because I was not his student, Mathematics and I parted ways never to meet after my schooling! Yet his books are still going strong and anyone who needs to know anything about Calculus ought to have read, ‘Calculus Narayanan’s’ book. This short man had so much stature. It was his deeds that stood against the tide of time and not his words. Is it wrong to place much importance to what one says in today’s world?
Yes, because all of us are not born to sell…even if it is to market our own ability.
We have been either naturally disinclined to indulge in self praise or during our nurture been told that self boast is almost narcissist in nature.
On the other hand, in the target oriented organisation where balance sheet and profit speaks the loudest language, it is imperative that the self appraisal is done in an extremely objective manner and there is a need to state unequivocally of your achievements. Similarly in the defense sector, it is important for you or your close friend to appraise the boss of the action on the field and your role in the same or chances of the credit being passed or unethically taken by others is bright as has been evident in history and fiction.
Unfortunately, we are living in a plastic world. People are so voluble about their little and littler successes that for a reticent person it is indeed difficult if their bosses or the loved ones have no knack in identifying a man’s true worth. Same can be said of schooling and parenting. It is a well known fact that a child who is quieter is not much appreciated even if he actually takes care of his parents as the one who makes tall promises and taller excuses. No wonder people today are more frustrated and lack confidence. But then, is all lost?
“Not at all,” says my friend and colleague, who strongly believes in karmic cycle. She says that only the shallow people go by words spoken rather than their deeds. She says a true leader will identify the right person for the right job and it is only when they themselves are lacking in ability go by advertising. “Sooner or later, the real you can’t be kept hidden and it is then when the fall will be terrible,” she firmly expounds. Another colleague narrated me a story of how Edison who was not aware of his own worth and was willing to sell his patent for quite a small amount.
Fortunately for him people did not short sell. As a fact of the matter, they were willing to pay him five times the money that he actually asked for. He feels, “true genius cannot be kept hidden.” But then, we are all not Edison.
The reality remains that majority of the people go in by the outward appearance and seem to love a sycophant and a self –aggrandizer. As I read somewhere, learning to live without recognition is a skill. Nobody truly knows which employee actually deserves the merit of success, or who’s actually contributing the necessary support to make things happen in any public office. Politics is here to stay- in majority of cases.