But I will know!
As we roll from one scam to another in India – you hear debates of value systems, declining ethics and so on… . For some reason the latest expose of even stalwarts of the media being implicated was the last nail in the proverbial coffin. I stopped reading the newspaper, watching the news and stopped inviting or socializing with friends and colleagues who pontificated over the current state… As I was withdrawing into my shell, unbeknownst to me…I had a reverse drama playing out in my own life! Let me play that for you in this post.
It was late at night, and I was surprised to see my son still awake when I got home. As soon as I walked in the door, he pounced on me, animatedly sharing his class project which needed him to list favourite things of his best friends, parents etc. After confirming mine, he wanted to call a friend to find out what his likes and dislikes were! Tired, I tried reasoning with him, but he was worried of not finishing his homework, finally out of sheer frustration, I said “why don’t you just make it up… your teacher doesn’t know your friend anyways”. Pat came the answer “ …but I will know that I made it up!”
Wow! I wasn’t going to negotiate or debate that… that was a clear message. Sagely at 6!
I had forgotten about this after twittering @agastyasays until last week, when I saw an email from Janaki Rajagopalan (a colleague from the New York office). Apparently, Dileep Thiagarajan (another colleague who works in our America operations) wanted to return a princely sum of US$ 269/- to the company. Huh? Say it again! Reading further, I learnt that the Movers had refunded this amount, as they found they had overbilled him. And since he had already claimed the amount in full from MphasiS, he wanted to return it!
Two things struck me immediately… Dileep could have easily pocketed this amount, which is not a small sum and nobody would have ever known! Moreover, the Movers could have easily kept quiet… the transaction was closed.. There was no fear of discovery. Yet they both chose to do the right thing and reimbursed the amount!
Is this what my 6 year old meant by “I will know that I made it up”?
In this context, I recall what one of our past CEO’s had said, when we were in the midst of our Values roll out a few years ago ….”true character is what you do when no one is watching you”.
Is this the inner compass that steers us? And why do we have such trouble taking direction from it? Who is the real us behind the mask. How do we behave when under pressure, how do we behave when we know no one is watching us…
Our behaviours are driven by i) Will I get caught? ii) What are the consequences or iii) It is not right, I know it and therefore I wont?
1 and 2 have their limitations… 3 is timeless, a guarantee that we will never have to hang our head in shame! What is your choice? And who is the person you’re hiding behind your mask? Will you recognise yourself without the mask say if you met in a crowded elevator or in a traffic snarl? Or when you know nobody will find out!
Have fun un masking – whatever you find.. don’t be alarmed – discovery is the beginning of change! And build a strong internal compass that will stand you in good through good and bad times! Let me warn you, it is tough… i believe we naturally are inclined to bad and self destructive behaviour… because that is easy .
If you get time read one of my early blogs “Silly ways to lose a job”… it will reinforce your external compass! Internal compass, you have to help yourself.
Good luck! And do leave your comments