I never really wanted to become a banker. But, with limited courses available and an even fewer career opportunities on offer, I grabbed the very first job that came my way – that of a Customer Relationship Manager in a private bank.
For me, every working day translated into 600 minutes of stress, with the lunch break providing the much-needed 30-minute respite in between. Every day, as I made my way back home, my head felt overburdened with regret, stress and haphazard strategies for the next day at work. Ironically, the more tired I was, the less sleepier I became. On one such night, as I tried to make peace with my increasingly elusive sleeping hours, I recalled a book that had been gifted to me. It was Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. I decided to have another go at sleeping – this time, with the book in one hand and my head above the other. It just took me a few minutes to realize that this was certainly not the right way to read a book, much less to fool my brain cells into surrendering to a relaxing sleep. That’s when I decided to change my posture.
I got up and found a better and more comfortable position to read. After a while, even that started feeling uneasy. This time, however, it was more down to the fact that I had read 80 pages of the book than to some glaring error in the biomechanics of my posture. Notwithstanding the precious sleeping time I had just lost, I had learned a very important lesson – doing what you want is not easy, but sticking to your choices is what sets people apart. Roark had believed in what he was good at and had made a fair evaluation of his knowledge and capabilities. That’s when it dawned on me that I was just the opposite of Roark, as I had absolutely no belief in my abilities. To say that I went to bed (finally!) with a feeling of despair wouldn’t be an understatement. I convinced myself to enthusiastically fulfill my routine banking duties as those might be what I was good at.
I made it to the office in time and started doing my work, until I got a call from my boss. He handed over some daily tasks to me. Although I had been working on them for the last few days as per the stipulated guidelines, I was just not getting them done the right way. That day, I decided to break the rule for a change and do things my way.
While I was supposed to refer to the standard manual to have a word with a customer and get their feedback on some of the bank’s services, the changed me decided to take a leaf out of the book of the fictional character that had woken me up from my slumber the night before.
After a couple of calls, I had a feeling that something wasn’t right somewhere. It didn’t take me long to figure out where I was erring – while I wasn’t following the manual, my tone definitely was. I made a few adjustments to the way I spoke and repeated the same things with a lot more conviction.
All of a sudden, my words had started making more sense. My calls were getting received more positively and the overall customer response was fairly encouraging to say the least. And all of this was due to a book that I hadn’t even completed!
I was quite clear about what I was going to do once I was back home. The next few days, which were holidays, saw me complete the book. I feel that The Fountainhead is all about individuality. It drives home the subtle message that, in spite of all the pre-specified rules that are meant to turn this world into a realm of nothing but submissive robots, you need to do things your own way if you are to reconcile success with satisfaction.
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