“Of fitness freak who made the difference”- 26 July 2011

“Meet Mr. Fitness freak. All the time, he is jogging or doing push-ups, and eating frugally. And whenever you meet him, he talks of exercising and asks you to follow some exercise regime. He is such a bore. Whenever I see him in the office corridor, I just sneak away. Who would listen to the nonsense?”

This is how most of his colleagues in the office spoke of Virdhawal who they called fitness freak. He had joined the mineral exploration firm just three years ago. He was always cheerful, always ready to take on any challenge at workplace, and willing to help whosoever was in need. Like many others, Virdhawal, too, was an engineer. But he was unlike most others who whiled away their time doing nothing in spare time. He would have his morning session of exercise for about an hour.
Later, during the workday, he would go out for a quick walk around the block for about 20 minutes before settling for lunch. After that, Virdhawal would have a power nap in his chair for a few minutes and would be back at work in time, all smiling, ‘cool’, and ready for any challenge. And whenever a chance came, he never missed telling his colleagues the importance of fitness regime. The colleagues hated his ‘fitness lectures’ and even avoided him.
Then something interesting (disturbing) happened. Three young colleagues who had been sent to an exploration site fell ill as they could not cope with the tough life there out in the wilderness. They sought their transfer back to any city-site. And this was not the first such case. In the past couple of years, at least a dozen of engineering staffers had opted out of that tough assignment. The company did not know how to cope with the situation. The site was floundering and the principals were pushing things hard. They had staked big money on the site and could only ill-afford to let the site run at a snail’s pace.
It is at this juncture that Virdhawal requested the bosses to send him to that ‘badnaam’ site that had sent many seniors packing. He did not any experience of site-management. Yet, out of desperation, the bosses chose him over others, gave him sumptuous allowances as part of their motivational efforts, and packed him off to the notorious site. He went with much confidence about success. Everybody laughed. All felt that Virdhawal would return defeated as the site was too difficult to manage.
In a few weeks, reports from the site were encouraging. The work had gotten going at full pace, with Virdhawal working almost round the clock. Despite the long hours, he still found time for his exercise regime which he had altered to suit the new conditions. Instead of coming away, Virdhawal seemed to enjoy the challenge, doing well for his assignment and for himself. Workers seemed to like his ways. He was everywhere with them. All were amazed to know that Virdhawal had not reported ‘sick’ even for a minute during the first one year. He worked on relentlessly and won plaudits from the principals. In a record time of two years, he completed the project that had not even got off to a decent start in the first seven years. Naturally, Virdhawal was the new hero.
After he returned to head office when the project was completed successfully, the bosses felicitated him and promoted him to a very senior position. At the small office function when he was felicitated, the bosses asked him what the secret of his success was. Virdhawal was a man of few words. He was reluctant to make speeches. But that evening, he spoke his heart out. “Regular exercise is my secret. Not only have I built a body strong enough to withstand the stress and strain of the tough life on the site, but also a strong mind to take on any challenge. I believe that my insistence upon fitness gave me the necessary strength. I am aware of the ridicule I faced when all of you called me fitness freak. I am aware that many of you even avoided me, fearful of my ‘fitness lectures’. But let me share with you my inner feelings – I do not mind being called a ‘fitness freak’. For, what made the difference was my fitness when most of you failed in the tough terrain out there.”
This story is worth listening to it from Virdhawal (his name changed for privacy) himself.

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