India has traditionally been a society where we have heard stories of the King and his Subjects, Gods and Mortals, the British Raj, and somewhere in our minds we have the concept of being submissive or being a follower to someone of higher power. And it did not help to have a Licence Raj. I grew up hearing stories of how these men of power could turn anyone into winners and anyone into losers.
About 15-20 years ago, India was home to a few industrial houses that had their hands in many businesses and the best a normal person did was to aspire to get a job with the Government services or with Tata, Reliance or Birla. Thinking big and doing big things was the exclusive territory of a few and the rest of the losers were mere paper-pushers in these giant organisations. We had become a culture of win-lose where clearly a privileged few winners could pretty much dictate their terms to the majority of the followers â âlosers’ â and this was easily accepted in the name of âKarma, Destiny, Everything happens for the best’ and âI am satisfied with what I have.’
In each and every deal, the losers got the shorter end of the stick and being treated unfairly was the rule, not the exception.
Have you looked around your father’s generation? Many of them were with the same company for 25 years with little growth, while all those companies and their so called âSeths’ grew richer and richer.
Culture of win-lose
A lot has changed in India over the past 20 years. Unfortunately, the culture of win-lose has only grown and we now have a new breed of âSeths’, far sophisticated and ruthless and extending the win-lose proposition to their employees, their investors and their customers (the losers). However, as long as these âlosers’ get benefits, though disproportionate, somehow they are very happy.
The bonus and compensation structure for MNC employees in India is mostly different (read lower) than their counterparts doing the same job in other territories. I am not comparing India and the US, say, compare with China or Brazil. The Indian stock markets are full of companies where promoters mess up their shareholders but as long as they make âsome’ money for the shareholders, they are made into poster boys.
At the same time, employees are used to accepting things, moving to the next winner who can pay them more than the last winner they worked for… forgetting the fact that they are still losers.
Our education system is not helping either. In the past, there were few top Management and Engineering colleges and the quality of these students was outstanding. Today, however, anyone with half-a-brain spends lakhs of rupees on private MBA institutes thinking this is going to turn them into winners… However, in reality they are the losers.
So how can a loser be a winner? Generally, higher education, family status, and a comfortable job are the things that make you lazy…The path is clear â you would join a big company as a Manager, join your family business and take up a well-charted career path as presented to you by a professor or a text book. You do the predictable and as part of the predictable, being part of a win-lose situation is absolutely normal. All these people end up in generally good situations but good is the enemy of best and they do not end up achieving the super success they are capable of, while they are successful by normal definition.
A loser is someone who is always bottom in his class, drops out of school or college, is not as good at academics, or âslow’ in a job. But I believe these so-called losers have the best chance of becoming the super winner. Let me explain why.
You have nothing to lose: Being a loser gives you a great advantage, the advantage of being able to take risks and bigger risks… They can be very disruptive as status quo has already rejected them.
Dummed down by education: Once you study MBA or engineering, you are trained to use centuries-old conventional wisdom to apply to modern day situations.
While this is great if you are going to run traditional businesses, however, to disrupt, you have to challenge these very traditional norms… I feel being a loser gives you this great advantage.
Team player: If you are on top of your class or work you are very competitive and normally always try to make friends with people of higher authority, such as your teacher, or principal or boss. But if you are a loser, your friends are your best support. It’s not uncommon to see a bunch of losers together, but have you ever seen a bunch of smart people together?
Unfounded passion: Winners normally have a path worked out for them by the system. They become managers, doctors, engineers and fit into the moulds created by society. However, a loser cannot excel in any normal thing and would be a disaster with the traditional jobs. However, if and a big if ….this loser is able to figure out what he is really passionate about â it could be anything and if he is able to use his risk taking ability, with his disruptive powers and team skills towards his passion, that is what creates a super achiever….
Take any story of Dhirubhai Ambani, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Laxmi Mittal, Sunil Bharti Mittal and many such examples and you would know what I am saying….
So, in today’s India, I am proud to be a Loser!