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My First Pay Cheque Taught Me A Lesson About Success That I Have Never Forgotten

Posted: January 14, 2019

On the journey to success, what are the values that matter most to you? What trade-offs are you willing to make? This personal experience will get you thinking.

It was way back in the year 2000 when I was seeking some corporate opportunities. The day came when I was selected in one of the renowned MNCs for a small 2-month project. 3 of us were got selected for that project and the pay offered for the project was Rs. 8000. I just couldn’t resist taking that offer though it was temporary work because I considered this a stepping stone in my career and I really wanted to see myself growing, earning and becoming successful.

It was not a hard task but for me it was like entering a world where I felt dwarfed. Things were really out of my league. Every single thing was new to me, whether it was about conversing with people or working on the computer systems. I was naive but was ON for the challenge.

The job was to take appointments with high profile people from around the world posted in various international organisations, checking their travel related details and updating them in the company’s newly launched travel portal. I had never seen such a world before. All I had to show to that world was my hard work and my value system, which I was sure (and still am) accelerates one to success. (The definition of success varies from person to person though).

It was my first experience with a corporate organisation and I was looking forward for the day when I could present the first salary cheque to my parents and see their pride and happiness. The day came and I received my 1st cheque. The courier with the cheque had my name on it and I was ecstatic.

But then I was surprised to see that cheque had an amount of Rs. 20,000 and I was even more elated. My parents were delighted but sceptical about the amount so they suggested that I inform this to the company and I immediately agreed.

Next day, I reached the office to inform them about about the goof-up happened on my pay cheque. I notified my Manager of the excess amount and returned the cheque to the HR department. They asked me to wait for some time so that they could process a new cheque.

Meanwhile I met my colleague who had also completed that project with me. He looked really happy and excited. I told him about the error and the reason for my visit to the office. He maliciously smiled and said, “I would have never behaved like a fool, I would have simply banked the cheque in my account”. Indirectly and directly he addressed me as a ‘fool’ but although I was dismayed, I continued the conversation. I didn’t want to get affected by his sarcasm because somewhere deep down in my system, I knew that such an act may not take you a long way in your career. Somewhere integrity begets its fruit called ‘Success’. (The definition of success varies from person to person though).

I asked him about his being in the office when the project and payment was already over, to which he smirked and said, “They have hired me for a permanent position and today’s my 1st day. See! I managed to impress them”.

I couldn’t understand what it was but something was hitting me hard inside. I again made a choice to ignore his malicious personality. His presence started making me uncomfortable – not for his achievements but for his disgraceful attitude in this nascent stage of his career. It shocked me as to how he could be so evil and conspiratorial, at this early stage. No matter what, I knew though that appreciation for me was on its way and he was nobody to appraise me for what I am.

Then the HR representative came and handed over the revised cheque to me. Surprisingly there was no sign of the word of appreciation I had been anxiously waiting for, neither from the HR nor from the Manager for what I did. This made me feel even heavier and for the first time I questioned myself. I was shaken up by the reality.

The experience of having got my first cheque felt a little better. I was naïve in this corporate world, in the formative years of my career and that was the first time I got to know what this world looks like. Every detail of that day was weighing me down and I struggled to be at peace with my own self. I knew I was right in my approach and had I been in the shoes of my Manager, I would have rather encouraged a righteous soul for her act.

It was a catch 22 situation but by God’s grace it was not difficult to decide that come what may, Appreciation and Gratitude would be my foremost tools in whatever position I attained in my future career. Further, being an ardent believer in my value system, I choose to continue following my values.

Looking back, I am thankful for my journey, that at this point of my career, where I have seen so many career upheavals, nothing weighs me down for long. It’s still as temporary as it was 19 years back.

I am happy and satisfied and that’s my SUCCESS.

(The definition of success varies from person to person though).

Image via Unsplash

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