Monday, October 31, 2011

Pour Yourself

I have an atypically long post today where I talk about how many businesses operate and how that compares with how we live as people.

If you have worked in some business, part-time or full-time in any field, you might have noticed this interesting phenomenon. The manager or the supervisor in charge who manages and takes cares of the ins and outs of the business is driven with profit in his mind. You can't blame him really. If there's no profit, it's hard to think of a reason to stay in business! That, of course, is not the interesting observation.

You might also have observed how the manager works. A typical manager will work hard every day. However, you should have noticed how the manager will focus mostly on high profit days or periods of the year. Those high profit days could be the weekend sales or the holiday sales. As a minion of the corporate machine, you might not earn any commission (if it was such a field that you work in) and might really hate those high profit periods. Or as a commission wielding person (still a minion really but a slightly higher paid one) you might really love those extra cashish. Also, I welcome you to this exclusive club of minions (commissioned or non-commissioned) of which I am also an esteemed member.

Perils involved
Interestingly, if you were to observe more deeply, you will notice that the bulk of the profit in such a business and in almost any field will be from the low-profit days of the week/year. That makes sense since you have a much higher number of low-profit days than high-profit days. Even though you make hundreds more in profit in the weekend, volume wise the most profit comes from the weekdays for a typical small business. You would also notice that the low profit days are taken for granted while the high profit days are revered as the savior. 

This mentality is shared across the board by the managers, the owners and the workers alike. This mentality makes the individual look at the high profit periods as this period that is much more important than the other days. While this prioritization make sense from the productivity view point (average higher profit per day), you can easily conclude that this does not make sense from the volume view point (total profit is higher on the lower profit days).

So what gives? Is it justified to focus on the high profit days or the christmas sales while ignoring the rest of the week or the rest of the year? (I don't know the answer for certain so I ask this question as well.)

Even a 10 year old will be able to tell you, this strategy is costing the business some money or unneeded stress since the normal days are ignored to focus solely on high profit days. The profit either stays the same or goes up on high-profit days while the profit comes down on low-profit days. How come the businessmen can't see that flaw?

My closest answer
I was thinking about this and the closest answer I can come up with is this:

Individuals are motivated to profit at the highest level at all times. If you see a day/period with a higher profit than another one, you will be drawn towards such high-profit days and high-profit periods much more than other days. While initially you might have been paying attention to all days equally, this difference in profit draws you in to the higher profit periods. While that is not necessarily bad, you also end up ignoring those other days and take them for granted. Some people might even hate them!

The last point is interesting. The low profit days have lower profit but still they are not losses. Yet people ignore them, take them for granted or actually hate them. This differentiation is important in the lenses of people perhaps. But there's something wrong with the picture here!

A Small Thought Experiment
Let's now go to our imagination. Let's take ourselves back ten years ago, let's say in the year 2000. What do you remember?

I remember taking some board exams in Nepal called the School Leaving Certificate (SLC). Funnily, I went to high school after that again (everyone does). I remember doing well. I remember playing in a cricket tournament where we lost because our players simply left because they had to meet a deadline to get into a school (long story). I remember the first time I fell head over heels for a girl that year. I remember learning to play the guitar after the board exams. All of these events are my cherished memories. However, all of them share this same theme as the "high-profit" days or in some cases the "lowest profit days" of a business. They are memorable because they make me very happy or very sad or very (insert some emotion). Perhaps you remember similar events if you are my age or completely different events if you are at a different place in life. But that's not the point.

Now let's get back to the present. What are you thinking about? Perhaps you are thinking "Does Nitish have a point here?" or "Why the hell am I wasting my time when I could be doing something else" or "Oh, damn monday" or "What do I have for lunch today" or "I have to run for a meeting soon" or "That was a great dessert." All perfectly valid questions and observations. However, did you think about this moment too? Or better yet, did you enjoy this moment? How about that breath you just took? Did you take enough to draw it into your heart into your blood supply to provide the fuel for your brain and other parts of your body? Do you feel your heart race as well? If you did any of the latter things, please teach me how, because you are living in the moment.

Much like the profit oriented business person, we also own a business. That business is ourselves. And much like the manager, we focus many times on high profit periods. Our graduation, our weekends, favorite TV shows, anniversaries, wedding days. That's excellent. However, when we focus a great deal on these sorts of items, we lose the enjoyment of the normal days, the plain dull mondays, the weekdays, the dish washing hour, the cool wednesday nights. The "low-profit" periods are many more than the "high-profit" periods. Yet we willingly and forcefully ignore them. There's something wrong about the picture here, isn't there?

The Impending Platitude
Here's the impending platitude that draws in as a conclusion to the above observations: Try to cherish and live each of your moments. Observe that breath, observe that glass of water trickling down your throat. Pour yourself into your work of choice. Pour yourself into the steamy hot shower/bath. Pour yourself into that cup of green tea.

Please share if you like it, comment on the post or just say namaste or hi.

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