Broken wings and shattered dreams
By: Bikram Vohra
It happens to the best of us. We are derailed from what we are doing and the light at the end of the tunnel becomes a train bearing down upon us. Things change in a few seconds and everything that we had so grandly planned collapses without any warning.
Especially the career path that was going along so smoothly, a series of incidents, some impact through a new set up, a change of priorities, market conditions, a new boss, and the path ends in a prickly thicket…you have nowhere to go.
Occasionally, it is an error of judgment on your part, years of honest, good work and then a silly mistake, an indiscretion, a flash of greed, a moment of corruption, a momentary indiscretion or flawed conduct unbecoming your position and it is all gone. A writer plagiarizing, an accountant fudging the books, a banker in a backdoor deal, a lawyer conning the client, a businessman scamming the market, a colleague doing the dirty, it is no different than being caught as an innocent in the wringer and dumped for no fault of your own. Life is harsh and it doesn’t owe you a living.
The FBI calls them Broken Wings. People on any staff, good people, who have been shafted, sidetracked, dropped on the wayside, used as scapegoats because they were in the convenient place at the wrong time or because they stepped into the firing line or just because their bosses feel threatened by them and want them out. At any given time any of us have had our wings bent or clipped or even pulled a bit and we have displayed the ruffled feathers of our indignation by standing firm and not allowing the feathers to be plucked. But when the wings are broken and you are railroaded out unfairly then the inability to fly up there to the top floor and declare war creates a very special rage. It is a mix of helplessness and anger laced with lashings of self-pity. At this point you make the decision that will mark your future indelibly. Do you cave in and pack your bags or do you walk tall again and hit the ground running. Sure, you know you were wronged. So what? You are a professional and corporate injustice is rife. Today’s favorite flavor is tomorrow’s rotten apple. I was talking to a broken wing the other day. He has been sideswiped from a fast track career post into a second rate job, his new posting clearly indicating that his graph has nosedived. He is bitter and blames his inept boss who doesn’t like him. He went out of his way, to ruin me, he says, the man is so incompetent he was afraid of me. That’s nothing new. We serve inept bosses a lot of the time. It goes with the territory. No staff collectively likes the boss. There are always varied opinions. Bosses, like chocolates in a box, come in assorted sizes and shapes. The worst of them breaks wings because they are in a position to pass the blame along with the buck.
In some scenarios there is no warning. Suddenly, you are out, your wing snapped; please don’t even enter the office, your personal effects will be sent to you. Not much you can do in these circumstance except nurse yourself back to health. But in most cases there is enough warning. You can sense your wing being in jeopardy. That’s when you need to have the smarts and the resilience to fly out without the pain and anguish of being mutilated in front of your peers.
Unfortunately, we are creatures of hope and we never quite know when the gun is loaded with the shot for us. You’d think we had seen it happen around us often enough to be able to spot the symptoms but we are still more than likely to get caught unawares. So we walk into it and boom, there go the wings. True, it isn’t easy. Commitments, car loans, children’s education, wife’s job, the over extended gratuity, the bank installments, three PDCs on the market, all little pieces of flinty steel nailing you down even when you know you are up for it.
If you cannot pre-empt it the best option lies in being ready for it by working on an alternative. If you know it will come to fruition begin growing a second set of wings in private and keep them ready and greased. Then you can really enjoy the last laugh. But remember to fly straight and true. Because it is hell being an eagle in a world of pigeons and if you do reach that chair where the boss sits make sure you don’t break someone else’s wings because it feeds your insecurity.