There are many successful people whom we envy. “Damn it! I deserved it more than him” said an entrepreneur friend of mine in utter desperation. He wasn’t ready to digest the fact that his competitor successfully bagged multi-million dollar funding from a venture capitalist. “They are nowhere close to us in terms of service and quality” he argued. “Nobody cares about quality these days!” he murmured in a bit of exaggerated assumption that satisfied his ego after ending up second to his competitor.
It is too hard to accept the fact after someone beats you whom you generally laughed off as a minion. The same was the frustration for him. It is hard to believe that someone rose to heights before you could and went past your business out of nowhere.
Many of us blame others for own failures but ourselves. They are unable to accept the truth that they were outdone by the better. Just because you don’t consider a person better than yourself doesn’t change the fact that he has outsmarted you. Who gave you the right to believe that only your ‘hard work’ counts but neglect what other people do. The reality is the best mirror for realizing the truth. Either you accept or not, the ‘Truth’ that can’t be changed.
But it is not a dead end for you. In fact, it can just be the beginning that you needed to get charged up. Life is long and there are infinite opportunities and much better ones too. So, you should brace yourself and prepare to fetch those bright opportunities that your hard work will consistently land for you.
I have one story that gives a really good lesson. Why our perception doesn’t always reciprocates the reality?
Once Upon a time,
there was a Soldier who primarily served as a guard for the King. The guard always made sure that the King stays happy with his service and followed each and every order from word to word. The king also seemed quite satisfied by the sincere service of the Soldier.
But the ‘Loyal’ Soldier was really hurt when he found a relatively younger soldier has honored the title of ‘a Knight’. The Soldier believed that he was a much more deserving person for the ‘honor’, at least more than that Younger Soldier.
One day, he decided to have a word with the king about his hurt sentiments. On a fine day when the King seemed in a relaxed and happy mood, the soldier took his chance and asked, “O Lord, I always served with utmost sincerity, with courage and valor which can be deemed second to none. Not once have I abstained from my duties while serving you. Then, how come you ignored my dedication and instead, honored a much younger soldier?”
The soldier continued after a brief pause, “All the courtroom members had suggested my name for the ‘honour’ of a Knight. Yet, It was not enough to convince you. While I know that your decision to chose him, must be rightful one for our state. But, I am unable to figure out the reason which made him more valuable than the years of honest and courageous services of mine?’ The King smiled back and gave a short compact reply, “You will get the answer at the right time.”
The very next week, the King planned to go to the forest for a two-day ‘hunting’ expedition which he usually went for once in every two months. The Soldier and the ‘New’ Knight both accompanied the king on the expedition. As it grew duskier, the king made up his mind to stop and find a safe shelter for the night.
They stopped at the place The King ordered the ‘New Knight’ to fill the empty containers with fresh drinking water from a nearby river which was not far from that place. As the King and the Soldier waited for the Knight’s return, they saw smoke, a bonfire and a group of people with few temporary camps very far away near the diminishing sun.
Though they were far off, the King still wanted to make sure those men were not a potential danger to their stay. So he sent the Soldier to learn more about those people. The Soldier joyously sprang into the direction determined to prove his worth to the King. He went and came back with the information, “They are spice traders who travel from one state to the other looking for the trade.”
The King replied in an affirmative gesture and asked, “So, Where have they come from?”. The Soldier had not asked the question. The soldier replied in a hurry, “I will be returning soon with the answer” and dashed towards the traders. He returned as fast as he could. Taking a deep sigh, he replied ‘they have come from the south and they visit our state at least once every year.’
The King fired one more question, “Do they have a problem if we join them?” The Soldier was sweating, breathless and tired. But still, he ran again, went there and returned with the answer. “They will stay with us but some terms,” the soldier said while breathing heavily.
“What terms?” the King’s questioned back even before the Soldier had finished. The Soldier didn’t bother to ask more. He was really tired but yet he was ready to run back for an answer. The soldier was too desperate to prove himself, “I will be back with the information as you didn’t ask about it earlier” the Soldier said while turning back to run. But the King stopped him this time. Instead, The King turned to the Knight who had already returned after filling the water container, “Go and Find more about those people” the King ordered pointing his finger towards the smoke.
The Knight disappeared in a flash. But he took much more time to return. This lighted up the Soldier with confidence. He was filled with enthusiasm as he was sure that he was much faster and agile as he took lesser time to return. “Ohh this young ‘Knight’ is wasting the precious time of my King,” the Soldier tried to boast himself by whispering in a sarcastic arrogance. The King smiled back at him and signaled him to have patience.
As the Knight returned, King asked, “So what information did you fetch?”. The Knight began, “Lord, they are Spice Traders from the Southern States who visit this place every summer for trading spices with other states. I have cross verified and they are truthful. They know the biggest spice merchant of our state and also know about few other gain merchants whom they deal with. The grain merchant they are talking about does sell spices seasonally.”
The confidence of the Knight was haunting the Soldier. The Knight continued after a deep sigh, “They are staying here tonight and it looked like they don’t have any arms even for self-defense. In fact, they seemed scared to see me with a sword. I thought that it could well be a safe place for our stay tonight. So, I assured them that the King is committed to safeguarding the guests visiting his state. Therefore, the King has decided to stay with them tonight. They showed their gratitude for the bigheartedness of the King and keen to serve thou with some delicious spicy food products. I have assessed and found that it will be safe to spend the night there. So with your kind permission, shall we proceed?”
The King nodded and three of them started to move towards the Traders. The King looked at the Soldier briefly. The Soldier’s face looked faded, colorless and pale. The King walked near the Soldier and said “What you couldn’t do in three rounds, the Knight accomplished in a single visit. You concentrated on getting me an answer. The Knight focused on getting the work ‘done’. You don’t think beyond the order. He already knows what he needs to do and doesn’t wait for an Order. Whose work do you think is more productive?”
The lesson seamlessly stands out to teach each one of us who fails and yet, ignores the fact that their efforts were not enough to ensure success. When we don’t succeed, we must come to terms with the fact that there are ‘others’ who have outsmarted us and stayed two steps ahead of us in terms of preparation, planning, and execution. One whose efforts have a propensity to transform the results in their favor always succeed in their efforts.
But when you talk of business, there are many more factors that determine success than few individual efforts. A successful business is more about an efficiency than individual hard work.
‘Working hard’ and ‘Working Smart’ are two very different aspects. In the story, the Soldier ran much more than the Knight and yet you talk of productivity, the Soldier is clearly ‘no match’ for the ‘Knight. ‘The Knight’ was much more productive even though he didn’t work as hard as the Soldier. The results reciprocate the same. It is not about how hard you work. It is more about how productively you work.
Coordination, the Successful Mantra for Effective Efficient Efforts
When you think as a business, the King’s decision makes more sense. But in reality, you will rarely find people as good as the ‘Knight’. You can maneuver the individuals during the work to make them more efficient. The best way to make sure that individual members of your team are seamlessly guided to productive results.
You don’t have the fictional liberty which the King enjoys. You want every employee to be as much productive as ‘the Knight’ which is not possible. Every person doesn’t have the same proficiency. Most people share the similar mindset as the Soldier had. But, the good thing about such people is that they are willing to ‘work hard’. You just need to maneuver their efforts and transform it productively.
When You ‘fail’, that doesn’t mean that you didn’t work hard. It is just that your efforts were less productive than what you actually want. When we place our efforts without any specific orientation can never overhaul the focused efforts of someone else. One whose work is focused wins the battle.
The smart effort brings you closer to results, far much more than disoriented and disorganized individual efforts. So better build a smart team rather than individual ‘workhorse’. Work on efficiency, not ‘vague efforts’. Organize your team…