To abandon


PPerhaps the one and only time one should consider giving up is when after doing an action several times, the result is the same, against the expectation of a better result. In such situations it is like whipping a dead horse, in fact to continue with it will amount to madness.

After spending decades in business and human resource management, including my own experience and involvement, I have come to realize that fairy tales, nursery rhymes, anecdotes, parables, fables, axioms, idioms and the Proverbs, which we all learned from kindergarten to say the fifth standard, contain within them a great treasure of hidden meanings, which, when discovered, lead to a better understanding of the human psyche. They have great practical implications when used and applied in everyday life situations. They are relevant to the growth of individuals and the broadening of the horizon of thought, as well as applicable to the management of resources, including human resources.

From Cinderella, I learned how to stay positive in a highly toxic and hostile environment; from Snow White, what selfless service is, from King Thrushbeard, how important humility is in building a lasting relationship, and more. In a similar vein, as a schoolboy, I was sitting with an Enid Blyton book on the veranda, (it was drizzling), from where I noticed an army of ants marching in a single line, from the ground they were heading towards the end of the ceiling — an ant fell from the wall onto the floor, it rolled very quickly and joined the line, after a few climbs, it fell back; he returned to the line, this saga continued several times, but finally he arrived at the ceiling, from where he had to climb to his hiding place – watching the spectacle made me realize the profound importance of the proverb, that Re. Brother. Roberts had taught us, “Try, try, until you succeed”. No place to give up, was the essential lesson.

All successful men and women who appear gloriously on the pages of human history have a story behind them to tell — a story of determination, hardship, rejection and failure. Writers, poets, scientists, singers, composers, artists, etc. who have achieved celebrity status have burned their midnight lamp; they tried hard to succeed. They have never been intimidated by the unpleasant rejections of their works. Charles Dickens, kept churning out story after story that publishers kept rejecting. But he didn’t give in. More recently, JK Rowling was broke and bankrupt, living on unemployed money. The Harry Potter story didn’t make sense to any publisher. But, one day, for a publisher, it made a lot of sense, because it is believed, he saw his eight-year-old daughter absorbed in reading his manuscript, she liked the story, so he (the publisher) loved it too! He dove in and risked his money printing the book. Since then, neither Rowling nor the publishing houses have looked back, and what followed is a resounding success story. She didn’t give up.

Perseverance and resilience are prerequisites for the success of any business. The dictionary meaning of resilience is “the ability to fully recover from difficulties; hardness’. The American Psychological Association defines resilience as “the result of successful adaptation to difficult or difficult life experiences, particularly through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.”

Hope and resilience are mistaken to mean the same thing. They are not. Hope is more in the arena of a belief/faith based system that the future will be better than the present. Managers see optimism as a tool that allows them to develop thinking about “what should happen, no matter how hard you try”. It’s surrender, without a fight. It is better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all. Therefore, perseverance and resilience are a little better than general optimism.

Tenacity and determination are qualities that no manager can ignore – if stripped of them will surely make him an incompetent manager. The river always wins against the rocks, not by its sheer force, but by virtue of its persistence. A supervisor’s resilience should serve as a catalyst trait in overcoming cognitive and non-cognitive challenges and issues that a company may face. It is through the spirit of not giving up that the sail is set for new directions of sailing, through rough waters.

Managers and leaders must adopt a character of non-negotiability on the effort to provide for the pursuit of a greater objective. Setbacks should not dominate future actions. When an Apollo spacecraft exploded, minutes after liftoff, it did not deter NASA from future Apollo flights. They made deeper inroads with a greater determination not to give up at the sight of the bigger end of the picture. For a soldier, his duty and his sense of responsibility are supreme, nothing else matters to him. The fighting individual cannot afford to give up what the entrepreneur orders him to do, he cannot afford to give up. And that thought is summed up so well in Alfred Tenneyson’s “The charge of the Light Brigade,” “theirs is not to answer, theirs is not to reason, why? they have only to do and die”.

Never “giving up” is an attitude. Like many characteristics and personality traits, it must be recognized and nurtured. It is a habit to acquire; a practice to unleash against any adversity. The raindrops make a hole in the stone, not by force, but by falling often, says Hugh Latimer, in the Second Sermon, before the King’s Majesty (1549).

Being overwhelmed by challenges, circumstances, market pressures, peer pressure, and succumbing to showing pressure from the supervisor pretty much indicates that the absence of this trait will lead to abandoning a goal. “He who wants the end, wants the means.”

If the purpose of an effort remains a mystery to the performers, the effort will be dull and halfhearted, evasive of emotion. It is imperative to ensure that success is achieved, each constituent knowing what will ultimately be the result of their action. A technician on the assembly line of an automotive industry, who is just “responsible” for putting on the steering wheel, will do it, only better, if he has in mind what the car would look like — hence the design of the car model is displayed at the factory. Knowledge of the final product gives meaning to the effort; work or HR deems relevant and important to the entity. Once filled with this sense of belonging, no employee would abandon the tasks at hand, the more likely the effort will be more effective.

Managers who believe in relentlessly pursuing their business goals and objectives, if and when they fail in their efforts, go back to the drawing board to redo the plan of action and identify gaps that need to be filled. Once this introspective exercise is complete, they relaunch with renewed vigor to achieve the desired results.

Leaders and managers who are blessed with the “never give up” attitude are more likely to achieve predefined goals, and therein lies the difference between a good, wise leader and one who is steeped in wisdom. ‘hesitation. Consistency of purpose lends credibility and meaning to individual effort in any team. The pursuit is not about indulging, when challenged or confronted, that’s all, about the ability to thwart the intimidating market or other situations. Managers who “avoid obfuscation and embrace elucidation” are those who remove the cobwebs surrounding an issue and in their place bring clarity, eliminating ambiguity.

Our greatest weakness is giving up. The surest way to success is always to try just one more time. (Thomas Edison). Resilience guarantees success.

The writer is a senior banker


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