Underdogs should not be underestimated

One day, as they were driving back to their office after a visit to their customer’s factory, a Sales Executive told his General Manager that he had noticed that the GM spoke equally politely with all persons, from the Managing Director down to a janitor whom he happened to speak with. This was extremely unusual, especially in India. He asked the GM if he was equally polite to all persons in personal life as well, or whether his politeness at the customer’s factory was a part of his salesmanship.

The GM replied that it was not salesmanship. As a child, he had been brought up to be polite to all people. As he grew up, he was inspired by the story ‘The Verger’ by W. Somerset Maugham and by the real-life examples of people like industrialist Dhirubhai Ambani and film actor Rajinikanth, both of whom had grown from very modest beginnings to reach the pinnacle of their respective professions. He added, “It is only an accident of birth that we have been born in families that could provide us with a comfortable lifestyle and a good education. So, let’s not underestimate or look down upon a petrol bunk employee, who might well turn out to be another Dhirubhai Ambani, or a bus conductor, who might well turn out to be another Rajinikanth!”

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18 thoughts on “Underdogs should not be underestimated

    • I am not a fan of Rajinikanth as a film actor, but a great fan of him as a wonderful human being. I once saw him at close range at an airport and was touched by his simplicity and humility.

  1. The GM is a good hearted man. But how about trying to show kindness to all humans without wondering if they will be the next Ambani or Rajnikanth.

    • The GM spoke about ‘next Ambani or Rajinikanth’ only to reinforce the point to his junior. He (the GM) himself was respectful to all persons irrespective of their present or future status.

  2. It is said that Dhirubhai first made friends with the chaprasi of the neta-babus in Delhi!
    He firmly believed the access to Lord Shiva is granted by his Nandi bull whose hump one touches in the temple.
    It doesn’t cost anything to be nice and polite with anybody and everybody to get the job done, A small price to pay besides a maamul to tell the others “Saab is busy” and let you in.

  3. I’ve said this before & I say it always the true worth & character of a person is not defined by how he relates to his seniors but how well he treats his juniors.This lesson I learnt from my late uncle, if it was lunch time & the guys were sitting for lunch & he happened to be going out he would walk up to the group of helpers & ask for a bhakre & chutney. I just cannot describe the look of pride & joy on their faces as he fooled & eat it standing there with them.
    The attitude of the GM is outstanding & shows how well he was groomed from childhood. It does not cost a pie to be nice to anyone.

  4. Yes politeness with everyone regardless of their present social standing or their potential future social status is always a good idea, a basic trait that makes us human in fact. Good post!

  5. ‘It is only an accident of birth that we have been born in families that could provide us with a comfortable lifestyle and a good education.’ – this is so so true.. I realize this more when I see people around considering themselves superior than a janitor…And understanding this also make me realize how greatful I should be for my life..

  6. Is that not given ? I am generally polite with everyone – if not hurt, irrespective of my thinking about their present status or what they could become in future in relation to their social or professional standing. I think nothing unusual or extraordinary in that !!!

    • It should be a given. You may be polite with everyone. But, just look around. You will find many people’s words, tone, body language changing for the worse when they speak with certain people.

  7. People here, in Sydney are very polite and well behaved. There is no disparity in conduct with a taxi driver or a general manager. All are treated equally. It maybe because all professions earn equally well and people don’t bias on the basis of little meaningless things.

  8. very well said!! there’s a vegetable vendor near our apartment whom I have known for the past twenty years…. today his daughter is a doctor….. humble beginnings..great endings!!

  9. Beautiful thoughts… Even if they don’t turn Rajnikant tomorrow, they are humans today. We should respect beings in any case. What we expect from others is what we should give to them!!!

  10. Well written ! liked the way you bring learnings to the readers, like Rajni kanth for his simplicity and generosity, always good to be polite to everyone we meet ! Remember a story I heard as a child not clear about the author, who used to bow in front of children to appreciate them … for he always looked at them as great men and women …. thanks for sharing !

  11. “It is only an accident of birth that we have been born in families that could provide us with a comfortable lifestyle and a good education. So, let’s not underestimate or look down upon a petrol bunk employee, who might well turn out to be another Dhirubhai Ambani, or a bus conductor, who might well turn out to be another Rajinikanth!”

    Sums it up well! It’s just sheer luck. Otherwise, we could have been on the other side of the fence.

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