When Kumar joined the company seven years ago, one of the first sentences he uttered at a coffee break with friends was, “I am an extremely selfish person.” Then he had only laughed, and others exchanged curious glances. Seven years later, nobody has an impression that Kumar is a selfish person, as he described himself then. He is extremely methodical, law abiding, extremely cooperative, loyal to the company, boss, and colleagues. Others find him a very giving and forgiving person.
So, one day, a colleague reminded Kumar of his old remark and wondered what he meant then. Kumar laughed and said, “Look fellows, I am really selfish. I do only those things that bring to me happiness and a cool feeling. I follow rules and regulations. I lend my hand of help to anybody who needs. I follow the bosses’ instructions as much as I can. I always arrive in time and leave in time. And to be able to do so, I work in a planned manner so that I finish my work in time and am still free to have good coffee breaks which I like. I do all this only because I am a selfish person, seeking happiness, seeking peace in my life. At work, I work hard. At home, all of us go an extra mile to see that none of us is made to suffer on any count. Come home and you will realise what kind of atmosphere prevails in our family.”
“Then, you are an ideal person”, a colleague said in admiration.
Replied Kumar, “Not at all. I am far from ideal. For, ideal is God where there are no personal foibles and moods and fancies. I have my own. But as a selfish person, I try my level best to eliminate my faults so that I become a person whom everybody likes.”
The colleagues asked, “Does it mean that you are working all the time to make others like you?”
“No. That is not the case. I am mature enough to know that I cannot please everybody. So, when matters come to crunch, I hold on to my guns. I am firm enough to do the right thing, and not the thing which others want me to do. And again, all this is out of selfishness,” Kumar added.
Mr. Aftab Seth, the company’s senior-most Vice President in his late fifties, was sitting at the next table in the cafeteria as this conversation with Kumar and his colleague was going on. He came over to their table and wondered if he could join them. “Of course, Sir. You are most welcome,” Kumar and his colleague said promptly.
The boss said, “Look guys, I am sorry I overheard your conversation, which I should not have because it was a private talk. But I could not help as I sat only at that next table and I could not close my ears. But I am sorry. But if you allow me to speak, I wish to convey to both of you for the positive vibrations you have between you. And Kumar, I must compliment you for the personal wisdom you have brought to the company. I agree, you are a selfish person who does things to achieve a certain level of happiness. In fact, most have a similar goal, but do not know how to go about achieving it. You do. I have been following your career chart carefully because you came across as a different kind of person. And I feel that you claim to be selfish which you are not. On the contrary, you have sublime motivations that bring you a correct sense of well being because you reserve much of your energy to do things for others. You follow rules because that creates a smooth-sailing for you at work. No breaches of rules, and therefore no brushes with the bosses and others. Good.”
The boss left, and Kumar rose to leave. And then turned to the counter and paid the bill for three coffees – his, colleague’s, and the third of Seth Sir.
That was very much like himself, always thinking about others.
A very selfish man!