Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Indigo Jackal

A few days back, I was teaching (or should I say learning with) my seven year old son, English Prose or English II as it is popularly called.

One of the lessons to be read was a retelling of a Panchatantra tale called; The Indigo Jackal. I am sure most of us would have read the fable as a kid. The fable is about a jackal whoaccidently falls in a tub of indigo dye at the village weaver’s house, while trying to escape a pack of dogs. When the jackal goes back to the jungle in a royal indigo colour, all the animals are in awe of him. He plays along, tells them he is a messenger of God, and lives the royal life. However, when a pack of jackals come to the jungle, and start howling in the night, he does the same. The animals realize, he is just a common jackal and are furious they had been tricked.

Like all Panchatantra tales, this one ends with a very simple but important moral; don’t try to be what you are not.

So simple and yet so profound.

Reading and learning this story once again got me thinking.

In our professional life, many of us do behave like the Indigo Jackal.
A case in point is during interviews. We sometimes try to portray an image or persona that we clearly are not. It’s probably because we believe that it is this personality type that will get the top job. However, we forget that like the Indigo jackal, one cannot carry that forward for a long time. Suddenly you feel lost, don’t enjoy your job and your superior also feels shortchanged.

It sometimes may not be something as enormous as above, but rather insignificant. I once had a candidate come for an interview who had written French as one of the languages known in his curriculum vitae. I ended up asking the interviewee a few questions in French, and (s)he  admitted that (s)he just learnt it for a few years way back in school and does not remember any of it. Though, the candidate was good, I could not make myself select the person as my mind somewhere labelled the person deceitful. This jackal came with a French cloak to me.

Another arena where we sometimes become “Indigo Jackals” is how we sometimes conduct ourselves with our colleagues at work. One may probably be an approachable, full of life, friendly person. You suddenly decide to change to someone who is more reserved as part of a new role, promotion or assignment. While it may be an important aspect for the new role, one cannot probably be that way for long. You may feel stifled as it is not in your inherent nature to be that way. It makes sense , to be what you are , and allow your good work to speak for you and build goodwill

And I guess the learning for all of us is just that, be what you are. Don’t try to be what you are not. Because sooner or later,the truth emerges.

Success is all about being true to yourself and yet reaching your goal

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