How to let it go – A Story That My Boss told Me on Facing Rejection!

learning to let goI was very upset. It was more than a week that I had smiled at anyone at office. Failure was a little too much for me to bear. I was not willing to let go of it.

While it made no difference to anybody around me, it made a huge difference to me and anyone who cared for me. I was not able to concentrate on my work. I was losing it with every passing day.

My boss was unlike any others. But his being different from many others could have been one of the reasons for me not being considered for the position that I competed for. But nevertheless I was happy working with him. When many other would quit companies, blame it on their bosses I was willing to work because of my boss.

He too was amongst the few who was bothered about my behavior.

On a Monday, when I had just logged into my computer I saw a mail from my Boss. The subject read – “Building Sand Castles”. The mail had a nice story in it.

Hot sun. Salty air. Rhythmic waves.

A little boy is on his knees scooping and packing the sand with plastic shovels into a bright blue bucket. Then he upends the bucket on the surface and lifts it. And, to the delight of the little architect, a castle tower is created.

All afternoon he will work. Spooning out the moat. Packing the walls. Bottle tops will be sentries. Popsicle sticks will be bridges. A sandcastle will be built.

Big city. Busy streets. Rumbling traffic.

A man is in his office. At his desk he shuffles papers into stacks and delegates assignments. He cradles the phone on his shoulder and punches the keyboard with his fingers. Numbers are juggled and contracts are signed and much to the delight of the man, a profit is made.

All his life he will work. Formulating the plans. Forecasting the future. Annuities will be sentries. Capital gains will be bridges. An empire will be built.

Two builders of two castles. They have much in common. They shape granules into grandeurs. They see nothing and make something. They are diligent and determined. And for both the tide will rise and the end will come.

Yet that is where the similarities cease. For the boy sees the end while the man ignores it. Watch the boy as the dusk approaches.

As the waves near, the wise child jumps to his feet and begins to clap. There is no sorrow. No fear. No regret. He knew this would happen. He is not surprised. And when the great breaker crashes into his castle and his masterpiece is sucked into the sea, he smiles. He smiles, picks up his tools, takes his father’s hand, and goes home.

The grownup, however, is not so wise. As the wave of years collapses on his castle he is terrified. He hovers over the sandy monument to protect it. He blocks the waves from the walls he has made. Salt-water soaked and shivering he snarls at the incoming tide.

“It’s my castle,” he defies.

The ocean need not respond. Both know to whom the sand belongs…

I don’t know much about sandcastles. But children do. Watch them and learn. Go ahead and build, but build with a child’s heart. When the sun sets and the tides take – applaud. Salute the process of life and go home.

Indeed an inspiring tale. But that was the tale of sandcastles – ones that were built to be destroyed. While the co-relation was nicely built to a corporate employee, the story did not quite catch up with me.

All that you do at office.. what is the end-result that you expect? Appreciation, Promotion, Pay hike. The sand-castles that you build is aimed at one of these and when none of these gets fulfilled, you are bound to be disappointed and disappointed you should be.

If you were to stand up and applaud and salute the process of life, you will be stuck forever. It is important that you don’t go into a shell and destroy yourself but at the same time you have to be disappointed. Because if you are not, the motivation to do something different is dead and there ends your corporate journey, thanks to the law of the jungle which says, “Survival of the fittest”.

I was ready to look for a new job. Probably that was my way of saluting the process of life and my way of facing rejection.

Image Credit – Sara Heinrichs and Andrew Robertson