Monday, March 4, 2019

Look before you leap

Ennitthuniga karumam thunindhapin ennuvam enbadhu izhukku - Tirukkural

Consider well before you decide on a course of action; to decide first and consider later is folly - Loose translation

Tiru has generally been considered a wise old bloke. Yeah, to be sure, I have had reason to believe that his advice suited his times better than they suit ours. But, even in his times, I doubt that people would have lauded his wisdom if he had asked a fellow to think long and hard before tossing his pants off if they were on fire (Veshti, if you want to be too literal about it, given that pants were not what a well-dressed Tamilian of his times was used to wearing).

So, yes, I am sure he really did not mean that you had to hold a round table conference and chart out a full project report before you reacted to an emergency situation. He would not have wagged a finger at you and called you a fool if you ran out of your house in your underwear if the roof was falling down.

What he probably did mean with this wise old saw is about those things that you did have the time to think about the options. THEN there is a point to actually studying the pros and cons, to decide on a course of action, to anticipate possible problems and be prepared with ways to tackle them and all that rigmarole BEFORE you set the ball rolling. You know, just like that English proverb about looking before you leap (Yeah! I know, there are those very wise people who come out saying 'I did look. It still did not help when I fell into the well. I'd have been better off learning to swim.' THAT comes of taking things too literally. Of not understanding that to look before you leaped did not mean that the leaping should inevitably follow the looking. That you could choose not to leap if the looking showed you that you would certainly fall into the well if you leaped.) Tiru, though, goes further and says you need to think and plan, to not merely come to a 'Yes' or 'No' decision but also to know how to carry out the action in case you decide on 'Yes'.

The problem, though, is what I would call 'Other-Handitis'. I am a major sufferer from this dread disease. Any time I need to take a decision, I am like 'On the one hand, it will help me in this' but 'On the other hand, there will be this problem' know how it goes. My head keeps oscillating between this hand and that hand till it goes all dizzy and the decision gets taken for me because the time for action is long past and I am still vacillating between hands. (What? People call that 'Analysis-Paralysis'? Let them. I call it 'Other-Handitis'. So there!) So, if anything at all gets done by me, it is only when I leap first and then tackle issues as they come.

Quite naturally, my work ends up full of sticking plaster. I mean, it is like I start building something, there is a leak there so I apply sticking plaster on that, go on finding something else has developed a crack, apply sticking plaster on that...and so on and so on. Which, essentially, is what Tiru warns of. But, hey, however rickety it is, I did build the damn thing, even if it all falls apart within a week. Otherwise, nothing would have been done.

Bully for me, yeah, but that is not exactly the sort of person organizations should look for, is it? I mean, like, you would not really love a mobile, say, which breaks down every other day, redirects your GF's Whatsapp messages to your parents, drops calls whenever it is not in the mood. Not even if the operator says 'Hey! Count your blessings. You do have a mobile, don't you? It has still not burned to cinders, has it?' You kind of expect the guys backing it to have 'looked before they leaped'.

Tiru is spot on. Except, of course, that he expects ME to do it as well! If only advice applied exclusively to other people...