In one of my earlier companies, I had this middle aged colleague who had been with the company for over 10 years. Not the smartest around but was honest and loyal to his company; proudly displaying his company badge wherever he went, even beyond office . It was a sort of medal for him. He had a problem though with his communication skills, he could never be diplomatic, always direct though with good intentions. However others always found him to be an irritant and tried to avoid him. He used to work very hard to make up for his slow speed and lack of communication skills. On many occasions he was the last to leave office along with me.
However like most of the employees around, he never was recognized for his contribution. It had been many years since he last got a promotion, while those around him, much younger, had been promoted every second year. After regular office hours, those of us who were in office always heard of constant complaining spiel about why the company never promoted him despite his work being good. He took this up with his seniors every year before the appraisals; however they always consoled him by giving pep talks about how important a member he is to this company. They were smart, played on his emotions and got away every time. And poor fellow always remained hopeful that this year may be different. And every year he got the same results. No promotion
I once told him, why he takes such shit from seniors and that he should just leave the job. It’s probably then they would realize their mistake. This gentleman drew a blank face; he did not answer me but continued complaining. I then realized then that for him leaving the company was an option he never even considered.
He was so settled and comfortable in his role and routines that this was life for him. It was like this was the place he was supposed to spend the rest of his life working regardless of what was offered to him. Leaving the company was an idea he never ever considered. He was willing to work like a disgruntled unwanted employee rather than think about leaving and working somewhere else.
Then one day something happened which changed the course of his life
During one of the senior officials lunch gatherings where the MD of our company was present, he apparently gate crashed and went up to the MD and started talking about his promotion. One could clearly make out this guy was frustrated. The MD was a bit irritated by this and was trying to get him away. Just then others intervened and asked this gentleman to return later. However I think this was a little too much for everyone to handle.
After a few weeks I came to know he had resigned. I knew for sure he was forced out of his job. Felt sorry for him as knowing the kind of person he was, could sense how terrible his life would have been at that point. A person who does not want to let go has been forced out. He was now alone and didn’t probably know what do to. He had never planned for this.
I never heard about him after that.
After many years, during Christmas last year , came across a LinkedIn request from this same gentleman, who had now joined some other company and had sent me a message. I was pleasantly surprised and i had never expected to hear about him after that day. Just the tone of the message made me realized that something magical had happened in his life. And when checked his profile I was right. And was so happy for him.
This person was now a General Manager for a billion dollar company and was in a strategic role.
Knowing what had happened to him, never in my wildest dreams would have thought he could reach this far. And I wondered what different did he do that made him come this far. It was surely not luck. And what happened in his life is learning for all of us.
For a person who was so comfortable in his job, circumstances forced him to move out of his comfort zone. It was terrible for him as he was not prepared. But once on his own he had no option but to succeed. Succeed for the sake of his family and more importantly for his own self respect. And with whatever limited talent he had, channelled all his energy into getting it right. To do the impossible. What no one ever would have expected him. And he did prove everyone wrong. Including me. He succeeded. And I believe this is no luck.
Sometimes in life to reach our true potential we have to move out of our comfort zone and try something different. Had this gentleman continued to stay in the same place what would his life have been?
What is important to realize is he did not do this on his own; it was circumstances which forced him to move out of his comfort zone. He was lucky in that sense. May be others are not so lucky. Maybe they would not get this opportunity.
We may not always be forced out of our zone; yes opportunities do always come by, where we have a chance to change the course of our life. But do we take the plunge? Or do we rather stay in the safe territory? Do we let fate decide our course of action or do we take it in our own hands? And live a life of regret
We need to test ourselves. But it’s very difficult. A comfortable lifestyle, salary, a brand name, uncertainly of the future millions of perfectly valid reasons, makes it difficult to take that plunge into something that is unknown. But who knows our true potential may be waiting for us there at the other end. It all boils down to how much confidence we have on ourselves to make that difference in our lives