Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Motivation in the Age of the Old Guards

The Stick Theory
There is an ill-considered tendency among our generation (brought up on the modern idea of motivators) to blame the old guards of our traditions for being wholly unheeding to our circumstances and needs. While we espouse conciliation and coexistence of views, we are ourselves quite blind to their worldview. This naturally gives rise to the conviction that when our times come, we will be just as stubborn, self-righteous and become culpable of perpetuating the same disregard of the other.

The proper course is in dialogue and giving a chance for differences to exist in harmony. This may sound oxymoronic and so, quite quixotic if pursued in earnest. Naturally so! When it comes to the consideration of the possibility of an alternative to the conventions and views that we purport, we always become suspicious and ungainly defensive. We are never quite prepared to work on the terms set by others, however, well-intended they are.

We forget (or pretend to) that our antecedents have been fed on a different dose of morality and that they have been tuned to a standard that is different, if not higher, than ours’. Every generation before us has been indoctrinated on the Marpa-Milarepa cult. Pupil-master, as in servant-lord relation, had been incumbent on the existence of unequivocal reverence and unquestioning dedication on the part of the subservient party until such a time when he could himself claim the hierarch’s supremacy. Learning, knowledge and for that matter, acquisition of any worthy stuff was based on hard and torturous apprenticeship.

It is natural for the remnants of this school (of thought) to seek the same token now that their times for reciprocal obeisance have come. So what if this may be contrary to the rationale of Marpa who wanted to humble Milarepa who in an instance of rage, anger and a shot of unrestrained ego wrecked untold carnage.

If we are considerate of the other, as we want the other to be of us, the least we can do is to understand their situations and put them in context. If nothing else, it would make it easier for us to accept the monstrosity of the tyrants in our offices and homes. We might even understand that these bosses are not really tyrants at all, but rather misguided retainers of an enlightened tradition. As they say, do unto others, what you want others to do unto you. Instead of fighting back, if we are more game in our approach to them, we will atleast live up to what we profess and be more open.
A picture says a thousand words

However, I must admit that this is easier said (rather written) than done. I have been low on motivation, in the management sense of the word and had half a mind on calling my boss’s bluff. There is nothing to write home about my workplace performances. I have grown up on motivation theorems calling for incentives, recognitions and other sweeteners for heightened employee productivity. And I have been sorely missing them all. It seemed like an impregnable gulf between what has been said and what is actually delivered. I couldn’t find it in myself to deliver on the out-moded dictatorship.

I had just set out on my journey and I was beginning to have doubts if somewhere along the line, my choices had done me wrong. There is nothing in my temperament or aptitude suggestive of the robotic efficiency that bureaucracy entails. I was beginning to feel anxious about my future and started losing grips on my present. I was drifting away and had no will to pull myself together. There was no one to turn to. I couldn’t find anyone to confide in. Some didn’t care what happened to me, the old school that they were. It was just a phase and I was going to come around; and if I didn’t, then I wasn’t worth their efforts anyways. Others were just plain ignorant and could do nothing to soothe my apparently troubled soul.

The result was disappointment, disillusionment and all these rants on my blog. Not that I could ever be perfectly content, I think and expect too much for that. But at this juncture in my life, I am particularly insecure and well, disappointed with the callousness of the world and well, my bosses. They just can’t seem to come around to the same wavelength as me and find a way to motivate as the management books that I subscribe to propagate.

But today was different. In a very long while, I had finally been stirred enough to make me believe that I should give this job some more time. And no points for guessing that it was because I finally got some good tidings from my boss. I could see no reason why he should not, but he would never stand to congratulate me on a work well done. However, judging from his general demeanor, I could tell that he was rather pleased with my job. And I have been made to understand as much by the closest of his aides. At any rate, it has been enough to make me think of this defence for him and his kinds.

On the one hand, this would reflect rather poorly on me to think that my motivation and performance is incumbent upon such token measures. What could be more petty or vain than this? It would seem I am after approval and am off to please, sycophantically, if I might add. But really, it does feel good to be reassured that you are doing okay, that your efforts are not wasted and that there is room for excellence. Especially so as you begin to feel all at sea just as start out on your life's journey. Now, that can't be vanity even if it is typically slavish.


  1. Well written as you alys. I njoyed reading. hope the red carpet in your office in which we have to remove our shoes to enter is not motivating enough lol.....