“Survival of the fittest” is a very old saying. Every morning, the race starts for survival. The tiger runs after the deer so that he can catch him, kill him and survive. The deer will automatically never come to the tiger and offer himself to the tiger or lion to satisfy his/her hunger. The tiger has to perform, he has to make an effort and in fact outperform the deer to catch him. Similarly, the deer has to run faster than the tiger to save his life and survive for the day. So the deer also has to perform at its peak capacity to survive every day, every hour and in fact every minute when attacked by a bigger animal in the jungle otherwise it should be ready to get perished.
The competitive world in which we live today is no different. Every morning, the rickshaw puller has to go to the rickshaw stand and is on the lookout for passengers. He is working hard for the full day and at times a bit late so that he can feed himself and his children in the evening. The daily wage earner also has to look for ‘Dihari’ (daily wage job) otherwise he can’t survive. The students have to perform in the class and in the exams to move ahead otherwise they will lag behind.
A salesman starts the day with the hope to crack some good deals so that he can make a good report to his manager in the evening. He/she makes his/her best efforts to perform to not only maintain his/her job but perform in a way to be eligible for next promotion. His/her non-performance or under performance can be tolerated for a few days but not for a long time. Ninety percent of the time people lose their job because of performance below the expected level. And only in ten percent of the cases, job loss may be because of other reasons like indiscipline or misconduct etc. Because if you are an excellent performer, some of your short comings and mistakes are tolerated by the management. But if you are a poor performer, the management is on the lookout for an opportunity that you make a mistake and you shall be shown the door.
There are some organisations and particularly the government ones where a large percentage of people are poor performers. If I quote Pareto principle, 80% of the work force are poor performers and the organisations are able to just survive because of the other 20% good performers. Now these 80% of the people may continue to survive and even may get some promotions too. But in actual practice, they are a parasite for the society. Within their departments, nobody takes any note of them. They just exist. They may not be thrown out because of some government laws or they may not even perish in the true sense. But their existence in the company may be as good as not being there. Nobody notices them. While the other bright and hardworking 20% are the ones who are responsible for the survival of such organisations. They are noticed. They are given higher and higher responsibilities. They get their promotions in time and in fact contribute to the full society. The other lazy 80% continue to survive because of these 20% great performers. This ratio may not be very sacrosanct. But is definitely an indication of how our society works.
Can you imagine a soldier on the LOC not being vigil and not performing in the face of enemy troops on the prowl? He has to be alert all the time from the fire from enemy and also take precautions from inhospitable terrain and from the vagaries of weather to save him. He has to keep his weapons in perfect state. He can’t afford to be careless in any area to survive and fight. He will immediately get killed either by a bullet from the enemy or from snake bite or a snow avalanche and perish if not alert fully.
So this soldier has to perform with peak efficiency on so many fronts to survive. Imagine the responsibility on the shoulders of a pilot of a dream liner or any other aircraft. The lives of hundreds of people are in his hands. Can he afford to be careless even a bit? No way. His eyes and ears are alert 100% and his hands ready to take any action in case of any abnormal indication from any corner of the cockpit.
Today, even the political parties have realised that they have to perform if they don’t wish to be thrown into the dustbin of history. People are ready to give a chance to the new performers also based on their promises and public image. But they are monitored very minutely by masses directly and through conventional media and now social media too. A party that came to power in a state on the promise of eliminating corruption with an unbelievable thumping majority is on the verge of extinction within three years of its existence. Political analysts will make a long list of reasons why they failed but the most important reason will be that they didn’t perform to the level they promised and to the expectations of the people.
Business houses also disappear or go in the wilderness when they don’t understand the changing environment and change themselves, change their operations, change the line of products or change the way business is done. Where is Kodak these days? Do you see Nokia phones competing in the market? At the same time there are global as well as national level companies who continue to not only survive but continue to occupy a leadership position because they are flexible enough to change with times. Pepsi Co came up with Nimbooz and Coca Cola launched another lemon drink to take on the thousands of crores of Nimboo Paani market. Unilever changed the gear to launch a range of herbal tooth pastes to face the onslaught from Patanjali. So these companies continue to perform with diversification, new products and new flavours depending upon the changing requirements and likings of the customers.
In our personal lives also, it is very important that we continue to perform if we wish to remain relevant. And in order to perform in a great way, it is practice, practice and practice that leads a person to perfectionism and then peak performance. The Indian shuttler Miss Sandhu is going great guns these days. She continues to perform: better and better. Can she afford any slackness and sloppiness? No way.
So this is true in any profession, any stage, any level that we have to perform otherwise we are bound to perish. All of us are running a race in our own way in our own arena. There is a minimum threshold level of performance expected from each one of us to survive. If our performance is sufficiently above the threshold level, we are rewarded by bonus, pay rise or promotion or even good health. But if our performance is below the threshold level, then we are thrown out of the job or we suffer in our area of operation and in fact, we are left with no option but to perish.
So let us continue to perform, better and better wherever we are, whatever area it could be. Just perform in an excellent manner.
VK Jaitly is a motivational speaker, a consultant, a coach, a writer and a mentor for the corporate world. He is an ex IITian with 35 years of experience in corporate, academics and defence. His workshops on ‘Business Excellence thru People (BEP)’ have been highly acclaimed for increasing productivity and profitability of organizations.
Jaitly has a number of articles to his credit and has delivered lectures/ presentations at National and International forums and has travelled across the globe. He had been the Leader for an All India Motor Cycle Rally and was Oi/C for a Car Rally from Kanyakumari to Delhi. He loves to trek, plays Golf. His first motivational book ‘We Can! We Can!’ has been getting very good reviews.