I mean that elite circle, group of our peers who are highly successful and smart, the people we all look up to. At school, college or university, these are the people who top every exams and look like they are set to go somewhere with their lives. At workplaces, these are the people who are known as the best hires, they excel at every projects they undertake, and very quickly climb up the ladder using their talent. More often than not, they also form an elite group, where they compete with each other, and measure themselves against other elite members of that circle. This rivalry is demonstrated in different ways at different stages of life. At school level these young bright students are trying to outsmart each other at exams, at assignments, they challenge each other with some particularly difficult math problem….at university level they keep an eye for who is going to bag the most lucrative job offer, and so on. In some form or other this rivalry stays on in their lives. I personally know many such people who were part of the same elite group during their school days, but even in their mid lives, they still keep tab on each other. It sounds ridiculous, and they would often deny that they do so. But if you happen to know them well, and know their ways well, then you can spot it, no problem.
Needless to say, other people look up to this super smart group, they long to be part of that circle. If you are part of this group, it can really push you towards excellence, it can keep you motivated to work harder and smarter. This peer pressure, if processed in a healthy way, can really take your motivation to a new high. However, success and accomplishments can also sometimes bring in arrogance. These elites know they are smart, they know they are talented, they are intellectually superior and this often makes them arrogant, snob and sometimes outright nasty.
Recently, I got a visit from a dear friend of mine. This friend is one such member of the elite group. True, he is super super smart and has been immensely successful in his career, but like many other of his peers he was also quite arrogant. He has been part of my life for so long now, and I have been awfully fond of him for so many years now, that although I know these limitations he has, it has never affected my love for him. For that matter, he also is familiar with so many shortcomings I have, and never bothered to stop loving me. That is what good friends are for, right? They are too well aware of our limitations and love us nevertheless. So while I love this friend, I know that sometimes he can be really arrogant and cutting in his behavior towards others.
But this time I noticed a difference. Something has shifted inside him. He has become more grounded, more rounded, lot of sharp edges have gone away. I could perceive it within an hour of his visit. My old friend has changed and in a good way. Slowly, as we began talking, catching up with what is happening in our lives, I came to know that he has been facing some problems at work. His promotion has been delayed, delayed and then denied. It seems somebody higher up did not like him for some reason and decided to play some nasty office politics. Now, this is certainly not a unique problem and many people face similar issues at their workplaces frequently. But for my friend, who has always moved in elite circles, such things are unexpected, unacceptable and simply something that happened to “other people”. He has always received escalated promotion for outstanding performance. Promotion being delayed or denied is not something he can stomach easily. This experience has shaken him and humbled him. While my friend had many other adorable qualities, modesty or humility was not one of them.
When we were talking, I naturally felt sorry and angry that despite doing very well, his promotion was unfairly denied to him. But I was also pleasantly surprised to have my old friend changed in such a beautiful way. And to me this totally feels like a bonus. I mean, I already had this person in my life and liked him so very much. Now the same person became even better…..does it not feel like a totally unexpected gift? I felt such a sense of deep gratitude welling up inside me, I didn’t know whom to thank. Thanking that vicious guy at his office who caused all this, sounds like a very wrong and ‘disloyal’ thing to do my friend. But I do feel thankful for the changes I see in my friend. And it does not look like a temporary change, it seems he has changed his way of life for good. He now responds to life in a more tolerant, patient and kind way, which shows in every single of his interactions.
Has it ever happened to you? Somebody whom you love anyway, despite some aspects of their nature, suddenly shake those disturbing traits off and you just don’t know what did you do to deserve this gift? Would love to know your comments on this.