Thursday, 23 June 2016

The confessions of a skilled lunatic.

Trust me when I tell you! It takes quite some doing to associate with yourself the title I've mentioned above. But post the grueling realization on how apt it is, you can't help but feel an eerie aplomb about it. I'm just another guy on the tenterhooks in the 21st century corporate scenario. Confused and clueless as I am about my future, I have a barrage of self-imposed confidence about my success that I genuinely didn't foster. And much to my surprise, even with my meager quiver of limited acumen on a handful of work related aspects, I'm often extolled as a young turk to watch out for. So I've largely lived my entire life equipping myself with more sharpened skills that would serve me better in what these people think would come of me. But of late I've come to notice some very strange but palpably obvious things about this entire fiefdom I now feel caught up in, and would like to share the same with you. 

All this time when I literally loved to study a few subjects and genuinely doted for those diagrams and schematics and precise descriptions of theories and principles in various books, I felt a sense of satisfaction that I'm finally gaining a piece of knowledge. One of our prime traits that make us human beings so superior, is our inexorable quest to never stop learning. And till the time I remained a student, from one institution to another, one grade beyond the lower rut, I just felt a mental elevation parallel to the allegorical one. I felt I'm moving up because I was building upon my knowledge and with every passing grade, I believed I am equipped with more sophisticated dexterity that is usually required at higher levels. So before stepping into the corporate folderol, that was quite a feeling to be initially solving case studies pertinent to an operations manager and then finally solving ones from the perspective of the CEO. It all seemed perfect till..

Till I finally joined the corporate world. As expected I was roped in at beginning levels and all I thought I had to do was to implement those entry level skills at work, learn more about the job, hone those skills with practical experience, and then just keep going and graduating one level up to move to the skills learned in the higher grade. But just a few days into the job I realized the innate fallacy in this. One, the teaching of stratified skills in your schools is not perfect. As you move to the higher skills, you concentrate so much on the fundamentals of the higher levels, that a very deep understanding of the basic levels is lost. I don't have a perfect analogy but consider a programmer who was trained initially on binary code, then assembly language and then he went on to the higher level programming instructions. Now he once knew the assembly language coding pretty well at college but he passed out knowing higher level programming with supreme confidence. 



His confidence was not dumbfounded. Everyone told him that most of the jobs need higher level programming skills so that was the right skill to acquire. And before you could know, you're in a software company, coding 9-5 on a high level programming language. Slowly and steadily you lose a grip of your fundamental skills of breaking down higher level instructions into assembly instructions, and assembly instructions into bits. After initial practice at the sophomore when you worked on high level programming, you initially did the conversions in a tedious and stultifying fashion but became good at it with time. Now, given that no one gives a damn about your conversion skills, you lose sight of what resides within what you do. And slowly and steadily, all your progress is linked to what you do and perform at a higher abstraction level. 

You earn well and you're promoted. So you learn more and more of that higher level programming language because you can now do more things on that higher abstraction level. And suddenly, all your erudition into seeing how things move at a basic level vanquish. In fact for the larger part of it you won't even recognize the presence of the lower layers - the cogs and sprockets. Your skill becomes detached from the fundamentals and while you're technically more skilled, your skills are narrowed down to a bare minimum. In fact to such a minimum, that now you entirely depend on your higher level programming language skills for existence and progress. So the language you coded on, now codes your life.

The above fallacy is hard to find but the analogy shows how more skills in the corporate world are tantamount to a depredation of your foundation skills. So while your actual skills, the ones that are actually needed to make something new and unique, like maybe a new programming language altogether, are made to vanish in the corporate culture. And all the while the success that comes with an emboldening of the higher level programming skills makes you narcissistic. So if tomorrow a young lad comes in and questions your higher level code by breaking it into bit levels, you'd knock him out because his volley was too hard for you to even comprehend. He'd be termed a ruffian and a misfit. And the culture that killed your real skills, now uses another you to kill skills of yet another young lad. And the vicious cycle continues. 

People sitting at the top of the corporate hierarchy run your life through pretenses and delusions. They know you don't merely work for any money, but you work for the ambition to improve. So they create a virtual ecosystem, a hacienda, where the narrow set of skills they want you to wholeheartedly work on, are made to appear so astounding that you feel like a god when you attain them. While in the real world, outside the corporate ecosystem, and in the realm of founders and innovators, those skills may hold no worth at all. So when I, a skilled professional realized my place in the scenario, I branded myself a lunatic. Because on one hand I'm able enough to see the sad and flagrant truth. But on the other hand, I can only feel mawkish about not being courageous enough to move out of a trap whose next layer is made out of this confession of mine!