By | Prabodh Sirur | In search of Postitive Intranets at In search of Positive Intranets
Nachu was on his odyssey trying to find the secret sauce of success and happiness.
Thanks to his newfound mentor, Mr. Ten, Nachu had already met two people (both with unusual names) – Speed and Ms Style. The next hero to meet was KA (Mr Know-All).
Ten gave an interesting description of KA.
“KA has information on almost all topics and he performs more than one task at a time, most of the times,” Ten laughed and continued, “Once I saw him playing harmonium in a small gathering and signing some cheques at the same time; can you believe?”.
Nachu walked in to meet KA with this small piece of information about KA from Ten.
KA was sitting on a small stool soaking his clothes in starch water and singing some classical composition.
KA was in his late seventies. He was a senior scientist in his work life, Nachu remembered from Mr Ten’s description of KA.
KA waved at the young man to pull a chair and sit near him, without stopping his singing. “KA does multiple tasks at the same time.”, the young man mentally confirmed Ten’s observation about KA.
KA stopped his singing, looked at the young man and said, “Welcome young man; Ten had told me that you are coming to meet me. How can I help you?”
“Mr KA, I had met Ten because I needed his guidance in my life’s journey. I want to be successful and happy. He asked me to meet you.”, the young man took a pause for a second and continued, “I have a few questions for you.”
“Sure; go ahead”.
“Why do you do many things at the same time?”, he asked KA.
“Well, I have only one life and I have to accomplish many things. Time is short.”, KA answered.
“Mr Ten also said, you have knowledge about everything. Why do we need to know so many things?” asked the young man.
“Why we need to know so many things…”, KA repeated Nachu’s question and said, “Let me give you a long answer to your short question.”
“I started collecting information because I loved to know things. I loved to know how things worked.“
“Later, gaining knowledge each day became a habit. My colleagues and friends saw me as their single source of information. I started noting down what people asked and started accumulating information they needed.”, KA continued, “Some needed to know something from finance e.g. will the dollar go up against gold this year?, some others needed to know something about politics e.g. how the economical canvas will change with the new party coming in, some wanted to know which model of the car, coming out in the next six months, was the best etc. etc. And I started keeping the information ready for such questions”.
“Slowly this habit of collecting information took me to do some serious study about ‘knowledge’ itself and I found something called the Dewey Library index that classifies all knowledge areas of the world. I spend some time every day to study something about each classification of knowledge.”
KA stopped his monologue, chuckled and said, ”You asked me the ‘why’ and now I gave you the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ too!”
“Great to know this. I wonder if I will be able to do as much. In fact, I do not see how it will help me become successful and happy.”, the young man muttered.
KA smiled, got up slowly, picked up the clothes from the starch bucket and started walking to dry them on the clothesline. The young man followed him to the terrace where KA started putting the clothes on the clothesline, while speaking to the young man, “Well, I cannot decide for you but tell me, have you ever observed what the bosses ask us?”
The young man started recollecting what his boss asked him. He had a few painful memories, of not knowing the exact status of his project, or of not recalling the numbers the boss asked.
“Oh yes, the numbers.”, Nachu blurted out.
KA smiled but said nothing.
The young man suddenly realised what KA had said at the beginning of the meeting. He had said, he used to note down all the questions anyone asked him and be ready with answers.
The bosses always asked for numbers and more often than not, many of his colleagues struggled to give the answers. The young man also remembered that the smart ones in his company always had the numbers on their fingertips. Probably that was the reason why they were treated as smart people.
KA had given him a big insight without actually speaking much about it.
For Nachu, the meeting was over.
The young man said a big thank you to the old Mr KA and started to leave.
Mr KA wished him luck, asked to convey his best wishes for Ten and said, “By the way, did Ten tell you about Tarzan and his victory cry? You must ask him if he has not.”
The young man was perplexed. He saw no connection between Ten and Tarzan. But promised KA that he will ask Ten about Tarzan.
“One more thing. You said you want to be successful and happy. You must ask the King of Bhutan.”
The young man got puzzled once more. First it was Tarzan and now the King of Bhutan.
He noted down the words ‘King of Bhutan’ in his notebook, thanked KA and bade him goodbye.
KA stopped the young man and said, “Wait. I just remembered something that I have to share with you.”
The young man turned and sat in front of KA.
KA continued, “I told you that I had become a single point of contact for all the information for my folks. I realised at that point of time that tasks stick to you. Once people around you know that you are good at something, whenever that task comes up, they will expect you to do it.”
The young man noted it down – ‘tasks stick to you’ and asked, “KA, but won’t it be good for me to get some tasks stuck to my name? I will become an indispensable and important person.”
“Sure, if you think so. But you have to remember that many a time, these tasks are dumped on you because no one else wants to do them. I remember, I was always called to give presentations to the visiting clients or to give some talks in seminars and colleges. I soon realised that I had to stop some of these things.”
“Let us take your example; once everyone around knows you are good in business numbers, everyone will expect you to start maintaining all the reports from where these numbers are generated. ”, KA said.
“But then, how do I decide what I should specialise in?”, the young man queried.
“You have to figure it out for yourself as to what is best for you.”, KA responded.
The young man started thinking about the problem KA put forth. He wanted to master the numbers but if people expect him to maintain the records also, that will add to his tasks. He could see from KA’s face that he was expecting a response from him.
The young man thought for a while and said, “KA, thanks for this wonderful tip. This is what I would do. I would talk to my boss and get him to add such tasks for my annual assessment. Else I should not do them. Thank you once again for all your help.”
When Nachu came back to Ten’s office, he shared his experience of meeting KA.
Ten asked Nachu, “By now you have met three of my heroes. What do you think of them? Did you see anything common in them?”
The young man thought for a while and said, “They value time.”
“What else?”, nudged Mr Ten.
“They have self-confidence.”, the young man added.
“Surprisingly, no one shared their goals with me, nor did they share any definitions for success and happiness.” the young man said ruefully.
Ten smiled, got up, picked up a marker and wrote the three qualities of the heroes on the white board and thanked the young man for his observation.
“Did you have an opportunity to think how KA’s inputs will make you successful and happy?”, Ten asked.
Nachu knew this question will come up and he was ready with his response this time.
Nachu said, “Yes Ten. I gave a thought to it. I don’t know how much successful I will become, but I will be happy that I will have ready answers to my Boss’ queries about numbers. I guess I will slowly start generating some analysis from the numbers. This will give me personal insight into how my work is impacting business. I am planning to note down questions people ask me just as KA did. This will help me listen to people more attentively.”
Ten smiled, nodded and bade Nachu good night.
When the young man went back home, he somehow found himself in a relaxed frame of mind, he didn’t know why.
Friends, won’t you like to dedicate at least one day in a week to KA and see how things change for you?
This story is inspired by my uncle Vasant Hervatte. I dedicate this piece to him.