Ask, and Ye Shall Receive

Most often it so happens that we don’t get the appreciation or receive what is rightfully ours. I will take the example of work-life here, since most of us spend a lot of time at work trying to make a living.

You work hard. You dedicate yourself to work. You want not only your success, but also the whole of your company’s. You work overtime—nights and weekends. You meet all your deadlines, deliver high quality results.

It is time for your annual review. You step into your boss’s office. He (used for convenience, you could substitute ‘she’, if you like) completes the review with you. He appreciates your work a great deal. He compliments you for your dedication, talents, work ethics and those great results you produced within the set deadline. Then comes the part of tangible appreciation—a pay raise, bonus and/or promotion. He tells you that there is no bonus for you because at your level in the employment ladder there is no bonus program. He tells you that you are going to get a meager pay raise which may or may not meet the current inflation. Your manager may be a genuine person and he may have genuinely tried to get you a good pay raise. And, possibly his hands were tied, because higher-ups (read: CEO and all the way to his manager) had to constrain the budget for raises so they can show large profits for the investors and shareholders. It is a fact that most companies treat the employees as commodities and resources that can be disposed off at anytime and not as human beings who have families to support and a life to lead. It is very rarely we find anything otherwise. You will, rightfully so, feel that it is not fair—your morale may even take a dive.

If you have developed a close friendship and trust with your manager, you could voice your reservations to him in no uncertain terms. What if you haven’t such a close relationship? Then what?

I faced this dilemma in my own work life. It gave me a lot of grief not because I did not get a raise, but because I did not get any recognition for my hard work. The answers came to me from the mahAbhArata (see sanskrit transliteration scheme) one of the greatest epics from India.

In this epic, the pAnDavAs were five brothers, considered the embodiment of good in this world (and in each and every one of us 🙂 ). udhishTirA was the eldest of the pAnDavAs and very virtuous. Since he followed the path of dharma at any cost, he was also known as dharmarAja (King of dharma).

The kauravAs were one hundred brothers considered to be an embodiment of evil (thoughts and deeds) in this world and in us 🙁 (I am simplifying here too much, it is not as black and white in the epic). The eldest of them duryOdhana was always jealous of his cousins pAnDavAs, because of their prowess and their being loved by all the people.

Once duryOdhana invited udhishTira for a game of dice. He cheated udhishTira to a defeat. According to the bet pAnDavAs had to leave their kingship and go to the forest for thirteen years and they spent the fourteenth year incognito. duryOdhana took possesion of their kingdom during this time.

After pAnDavAs successfully completed the fourteen years, they come back to ask duryOdhana for their kingdom.

So, yudhishTira requested SrI krishna to become his messenger and mediator, since he was his mentor and advisor.

He requested SrI krishna, “SrI krishna, if duryOdhana does not want to return us the whole of our kingdom, ask him to give us at least five villages that five of us brothers can rule. Being born in the race of kings, our dharma is to rule over our subjects. I do not like war which does no one good. I would like to resolve this peacefully.”

SrI krishna replied, “Your thoughts are very honorable. However, that kingdom is yours. You are hesitating to ask for what is rightfully yours. You know this. It is not good to give anything to somebody who does not deserve it. It is equally not good to not ask for something that is rightfully yours. It is not good to be quiet when injustice is done. You must act.”

This made me think. It is not good to just sit quietly when you are wronged. You must voice your opinion. But, sometimes just voicing our opinion may fall on deaf ears in this fiercely competitive world. We cannot go to wars as they did more than five thousand years ago. So, what do we do?

I have read Eckhart Tolle‘s The Power of Now a few times.

He says, I paraphrase, “If a life situation arises that is uncomfortable to you, you must first accept that the situation has occurred, instead of wallowing in it (the past). Otherwise, you cannot get any ideas to overcome the situation.” He furter adds, “Once you accept the situation you have a few choices—try to change it, move away from it, or accept the situation fully with all your heart and drop all the complaints from your heart.”

Here is how I interpret this for our example. If you are not recognized for your accomplishments, you have the following choices:

  • You have to try to change it. You should voice your opinion to your manager, peacefully, coherantly, why you deserve the recognition, listing all your accomplishments. If you still don’t get the recognition you deserve, then you further explore the following choices.
  • If you cannot change the situation, you should change yourself. Find a different job at a different company, if you can. But, there is no guarantee that you will be recognized in the new job. That is a chance you may have to take, if you decided to change your job.
  • If you really love the work you are doing more than any compensation or recognition, then drop any resistance to the situation wholeheartedly, accept the situation, drop all complaints, and move on happily with your job.

I know that you are going to say, “All this is easier said than done.” I agree. It takes constant practice.

I also hope that you never get into such a situation. I hope that you get all the recognition you deserve. But if you do not, how will you act? What will be your decision? Are you the master of your life?