Today I learnt some valuable lessons at work.  But I wish I had continued being stupid.. rather that learning these lessons.  Lessons about office politics.. and working smart…

2009 was a bad year on the work front. I was in a really tough assignment. There was a lot of stress… a lot of working on weekends, and late nights and there were days when I was on the brink of tears… or just on the verge of calling it quits.  It was a very long drawn assignment and it took every ounce of patience I had to stick with it and go through with it. So it was a relief when it finally ended in Nov… and it was a pleasant surprise when I got a great feedback for my work.  It was well deserved because I knew that my appraisal would go of great, because of all the heart, sweat and tears I had put into the assignment.

But life is never really that straightforward… is it? The guy I report to, did not seem to think of it as great. He has been known to favor some people in the team, and that is exactly what he is doing with the appraisal too. And so after hours and hours of discussion that reached a finale today, he handed out the verdict… a rating that was not as great as I had expected it to be…. I was hurt and heart broken… and for a while… I had to literally struggle with controlling my emotions and keeping the tears in check.

I had put in so much of me in the assignment in this past year.. I had sacrificed my social life, ignored my responsibilities to my family, stopped keeping in touch with friends.. all for this project. I was surviving on junk food, putting on weight, compromising on sleep and exercise… in fact, for all practical purposes.. treating my home just like some hotel where one comes in to sleep… and just because of one man’s biases.. and loyalities … and lack of objectivity and honesty… it has all been brushed aside… and some silly excuses had been handed to me, to make my peace with.

So I was walking back home in this state of mind… thinking for the nth time, how I needed to find a new direction in my career… a job I love and a place where my work is respected and appreciated, that I came across two sights. The first one was a long queue of assorted people, waiting in a single file, for their turn to fill up water from a single tap that has been provided at the entrance to our apartment complex. They are labourers and household helps, who stay in hutments close to our building.  They were standing patiently, waiting their turn… willing to share the single resource that had been provided to them.

The second sight I saw was a lady… a labourer, carrying her small child under her arm.. and the cement mix that is used for building, in a shallow dish on her head as she worked… and she was smiling and chatting as she went about it.

I compared my own situation to these two sets of people… like one is wont to, when one is going through a hard time. And I realised, that I was unhappy because I had a choice of leaving, of quitting. The anger and hurt I felt, where partly directed at the injustice of my rating… but the anger was also partly directed at me,  because I felt that I could’ve walked away from his behavior.. and that I did not have to suffer it.  The way I saw it.. I was better qualified and more intelligent than him..and so who was he to put down my effort, my work?

These guys did not have that choice. They have work.. they work. They don’t judge, or expect, or get emotionally attached to their work. They don’t romanticize their suffering, and they don’t take it to heart.  And they go about their work, diligently and yet.. with detachment.

There are a lot of thoughts swimming in my mind right now.  Was I wrong to be attached to work?  And to the expectation that good work will get its rewards? And was I wrong to be disillusioned when it didn’t?  I know that I will try and detach my self from work now and try and work smartly and objectively. But something tells me, that I will miss the naivete of the SS (Sunshinesafar) of the past, her enthusiasm, and working for the pure joy of working.