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NO SWETTING OVER SWOT, SIMPLY SOAR
Here’s the prompt.
By Neel Anil Panicker
Nitin Gokhale looked around him and found that he was the odd one out. Everyone in the large airy hall the size of a 5-star lobby was clad in suits. Cleaned and shaven, hairs gelled, shoes shining brighter than the morning sun, and holding sleek leather bound files in their manicured hands, each one of them radiated brilliance as their eager, sparkling eyes stood affixed on a corner door that for now remained firmly closed.
For a casual observer the scene could be mistaken for the grand finale round of the ‘Mr World’ contest when the door would magically spring open and the judges would walk upto announce the winner of the most prized contest.
Except that this was no beauty contest but a brainy one. The participants who were waiting were no handsome Amazon Gods and gorgeous Greek Goddesses but were all who had trumped the best brains of the country and elsewhere to emerge among the list of the final call getters of the CAT, the prestigious IIMs, the premier management institution of the world, from where in two years time, they would be honing and perfecting their considerable academic skills and business skills to emerge and take their rightful places as czars and czarinas of the diamond crusted corporate world.
Should he too have followed suit and worn a suit. Nitin mulled over the question as he looked at his crispy white shirt worn over a pair of black trousers.
No, that was unnecessary, maybe even a little over the top, and had he worn one it would have made him extremely conscious and thereby anxious, which again would have reflected in the way he conducted himself, Nitin reminded himself.
Besides, this made him stand out in the crowd even if it made him the odd one out.
A voice over the microphone interrupted this thoughts; Nitin heard his name being called out.
It was time to step through the door. He got up, creased his trousers, and with confident steps walked towards the door.
At the corner, he saw someone flashing a thumbs up sign.
It was Inder Malhotra, his friend and colleague from Delhi Technical University, his alma mater, and thereafter COACHING TIME, the MBA coaching institute in Delhi that the two had attended for almost a year immediately after completing their graduation.
He smiled back mouthing a ‘thanks’ and stepped in.
Smiling, he walked towards the sole oblong teak lined wood table that stood in the centre of an airy mid-sized room.
“Good morning, Sirs and Madam”, he wished the eminent group of five panelists who were seated across the table.
“Please be seated”, the man, who looked, with his shock of greying curly hair and huge thick oval glasses like Zubin Mehta, the renowned conductor of international symphony.
Gently easing himself into a chair, Nitin sat down, arms firmly folded and clutching single black colour file that contained his resume and a few certificates.
The perfunctory question and round session began as each panel member posed one query after the other, all pretty much the norm and answers to which Nitin though he gave very satisfactorily, judging by the glowing expressions that emanated from the eminent panellists.
Just as he thought the interview was over, a man who looked around sixty and had until now remained silent barring one stock question that he had posed about his school, straightened his tie, a blue silk one with a small red coloured triangular insignia, and asked, “Tell me young man, can you do a SWOT of yourself?”
Nitin had half anticipated this question and was a bit surprised that it had come at the fag end of the around fifteen minute interview, almost as an afterthought.
He cleared is throat and looking at the esteemed panel and then specifically at the gent who had asked, he replied,
“Respected Sirs, this is a standard trope that is trotted out in interview sessions all over the world. It’s as if without this asking about SWOT, no interview can pass muster.
It’s taken on a very holy status, a litmus test to validate or invalidate a candidate’s efficiency or lack of it.
With due respect, I would like to say that it’s time that we junk this acronym and replace it with another.
Nitin caught a few murmured whispers as suddenly the temperature in the room shot up despite the air conditioning.
He heard one of them say,” And what’s that, my friend?”
Ignoring the slight sarcasm laden tone that emanated, Nitin carried on, “ SOAR. This the new acronym that I believe the world should embrace instead of the mindlessly following the centuries old SWOT.
Unmindful of a few raised eyebrows and as many quizzical looks, Nitin continued, his voice dripping with confidence, his words cast in conviction,
“First, let’s see what SWOT means and is meant for.
The S stands for Strengths. It aims to figure out a person or institution’s strengths, our individual strong points. A very legitimate query.
W for weaknesses reveals our lackings, our drawbacks, out chinks in the armour.
O looks at our Opportunities while T points towards the Threats that we may pose.
Now, while I wholly subscribe to S, I strongly believe that the remaining letters have a strongly negative tone. To me it seems as if we are preparing to go to war. It’s as if the world is one big battlefield and full of mad, raging enemies, fire spewing monsters that we need to trounce and slay.
SWOT reads like a very clinical war manual to me, a secret blood letting code, that if it falls in someone’s hands could lead to either world supremacy and dominance along with unbridled power or universal subjugation and eternal stagnation.
It’s advocacy sends an entirely wrong message to the strife torn world that we live in currently, telling to young minds, boys and girls on the cusp of entering into adult hood that it’s okay to find, ferret out others’ weaknesses and exploit them to your advantage, that’s it’s okay to strike without fear and put the fear of the devil into your adversary’s brains simply because you have more strengths and little weaknesses and a whole lot more opportunities to threaten others not as blessed as you are into meek submission and insultful subjugation. It teaches the world the wrong set of dogmas, a dogma steeped in the binary of right and wrong, strong and weak, and good and bad shall, and will never ever be a panacea to solve the gargantuan problems that stares our beautiful world and help make it a better and more humane place to live in.
Instead, I propose that each of us, as individuals and as collectives, live and breathe and internalise SOAR.
While we turn inwards to understand and identify and hone our STRENGHTS in our respective professions, we don’t look of them as corporate arsenals, deadly AK 47s that we use, misuse and abuse by unleashing it mercilessly on our opponents, colleagues, competitors, Instead, we need to harness out strengths and look at it as aids, as OPPORTUNIES to help our fellow men and women, colleagues, contemporaries, to hand hold them and improve them, to make them better.
This way if we go about setting our goals and ASPIRATIONS keeping in mind the general benefit and welfare of all around us, the day will not be far off when one day we can sit and look back at all that we have achieved__a deep inner satisfaction, an abiding sense of inner fulfilment, a sense of peace and oneness with ourselves and the world and the cosmos. This is our reward, our RESULTS, the ultimate fruit of all our endeavours, the one that leaves us as happy and contended souls, the ultimate purpose of our lives.
And that respected gentlemen is what I intend to strive for, something no B-school can teach me or anyone else for that matter. Thanks.”
Pindrop silence followed thereafter. Then, the man who had posed the question got up and clapped, first slowly and then vigorously. Soon others too were on their feet, their beaming faces and wrinkled eyes revealing unequivocally their acknowledgment the wisdom that emanated from Nitin’s mouth.
That evening when the day long interview session ended each of the eminent went back home with a new vision, a new all embracing humanistic outlook towards life all thanks to a conscientious 21-year-old who had his head and heart screwed in the right places, who helped them traverse the difficult but highly rewarding journey from SWOT to SOAR.
©neelanilpanciker2017 #shortstory #fiction #CAT #CATology #1431words