After returning from any office travel, one of the important tasks is to clean the papers. Some of the papers need to be thrown away and some need to be preserved for future use. After a week- long travel, today evening I was engaged in this routine task and I came across an envelope. This envelope had remained unopened for a considerable period. This particular envelope was given to me by an Institute, a very prestigious Institute in the country.
This renowned Institute had invited me as a guest speaker. I was very busy that week – had returned from North East and had plans to travel the next two weeks - first to Uttarakhand and then to Andhra Pradesh. So, I needed some time for myself, for documentation, for preparation. When my reporting officer called me to ask whether I could go to deliver this lecture, I was for a moment going to say NO. However, I have been always lucky enough to have reporting officers, who never order me. They generally ask me politely whether it is possible for me to take on additional workload and I almost every time end up in taking that. One of my friends says that, “This is the management skill. They know that if they force you, you will rebel, but if given choice, you will take on additional responsibilities.” I am not sure whether my friend is right, but yes, I like to be treated with dignity. And I reciprocate such gift in my own way.
So, I prepared on Sunday, traveled on Monday evening, did the job on Tuesday and returned same evening. It was a mixed experience. The place was a beauty, to be near Himalaya is a luxury and I fully enjoyed that. This was an opportunity to learn about the Institute and I was overwhelmed by the aura of the place. The speech was received well by some and had good interaction with the audience. Overall, it was work –cum- break and I loved that.
This particular envelope was given to me along with memento at the end of my speech. In the rush of other activities I had not opened it.
I open it, read it and it irks me. The letter says:
Logo of the Institute Address of the Institute
Dear Ms. ……….
It was indeed a great pleasure having you with us at the ……………… to deliver a talk to the Officer Trainees of the ……………………
Your talk was extremely well received and the trainees appreciated the issues and points highlighted by you during the session. On behalf of the …………….. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for having taken time off from your busy schedule to visit ……………….
I hope you enjoyed visiting the ……………. I wish that your association with the …………….continues in the future as well.
If my guess is right, you are wondering why I am irritated with such a nice letter.
Let me share some more facts with you.
- 1. I never met the person who signed the letter, we talked on the phone and that was all.2. The person never attended my speech, so there was no point in she giving the feedback that the trainees appreciated the issues etc.3. The letter was handed over to me immediately after my speech. That means the content of the letter was written even before I had delivered the speech.4. This means that this is a standard letter – irrespective of the quality of my content and delivery. Even if it was worst speech of my life, the Institute blindly certifies me!5. Why does the institute think (howsoever renowned it might be) that I need a certificate by someone who never listened to me?
Why are we so formal? Why are we so dishonest? Why are we so artificial?
Why are we so dispassionate about the work we do? Without participating in it, how can we act as if we have participated?
Why do we appreciate others without meaning it? Why do we need appreciation by others? Do people remain associated because there is some paper which expresses the wish to remain associated?
Why do people sign the paper for the activity in which they did not participate? Why can’t they just delegate it? I do not mind such a letter from one of the persons who attended my speech – though probably it still might be dishonest and formal!
Why are we more for records than feelings? What if the Institute never gave me this letter – would it change my experience? Would it lessen my joy of being there?
I know it is just a formality. It is a routine for them and I also should treat it as one of the insignificant matters of life and ignore it.
My problem is: there are too many insignificant things in life, and if I keep on ignoring everything, one day I might find that my whole life was insignificant.
If I am involved in any act, for me at least is should be fully significant – no matter what others think about it. Life is all about bringing in significance to whatever we do, or better leave it. Life is actually an art of making insignificant more significant.
Life becomes significant only by involving oneself in this never ending process.