24 FEBRUARY 2022


Right from the beginning we humans have been taught and trained to work for a living, work hard in order to grow and ultimately to leave a legacy that is worth remembering.

In this quest of searching for greener pastures, for doing something different or doing something that no one has ever tried (by venturing into virgin territories), we may end up pushing so hard that we may rub people the wrong way, cause misunderstandings and probably create barriers that would last longer than we think. So what is our aim? Are we trying to build a career for ourselves? Are we trying to grow faster than the others? Or are we doing all of these forthcoming activities at the cost of hurting the other?

So the question really is, are we making a mark for ourselves or are we making a scar in people’s lives, that would stay permanently, perhaps like a tattoo or a birthmark?

Here are a few of my thoughts on situations that could challenge us to reflect on whether we are making a mark or causing a scar:

In our family relationships -

Among family members, there normally isn't any competition or perhaps the least competition, nonetheless we still find unforgiveness between siblings, children or even couples. Sometimes comments may have been passed in jest and that could snowball into a relationship-breaker. Also, at times there could be a fight for supremacy as to who runs the home or who brings in the money to support the family and that could lead to misunderstanding and result in permanent scars which people may find hard to erase.

I am reminded of a real-life story of a young, handsome teenager who went into depression and never returned to the vibrant star that he was. All this change came about overnight when he discovered a letter written by his father to his employer seeking a transfer back to his family due to his son’s ‘mentally challenged’ situation. The father actually gave that as a mere excuse to return from a transfer (from another city that he was not happy with), but unfortunately wasn’t alive to convince his son the reason behind his letter. It made a scar in this boy’s life as he continued to ponder on an unanswered question - “Why did my father say this?”

In our team relationships -

Everyone wants to be the team leader or the boss of their group but the way up matters. Is merit the only engine that people use? Are cultural differences respected while craving for the top? Are collaboration and networking part of the journey? If the answer to any of these questions is a ‘NO’ then rest assured that team members may be scarred with such people who strive to become the boss one day.

In our work relationships -

We find fantastic leaders who really strive hard, who demonstrate credible work ethics and foster healthy working relationships with their team members. They are a great source of inspiration and motivation. They demonstrate worthy leadership qualities and are often seen as role models, not just in their position of power, authority and position but also as genuine leaders across multiple groups. Because of this great demonstrated ability of their leadership skills, they actually leave a mark not just in their organisation but also in people’s lives. On the other hand we also see leaders who are focused on profits not people. They are self-centric and are task-oriented without a touch of empathy. While such leaders may seem to make their mark in their organisation but in the long run they would have caused scars in the lives of many people who surrounded them.

In our society relationships -

Often when I meet people at social gatherings I am struck with awe, because the more I speak with them, the more I realise how credible they are and yet they come across as simple and down-to-earth. I’ve learnt more lessons from such people than the many braggers who flaunt their power, title and position to seek attention and engage in conversations without empathy, compassion or even pay attention to what the others have to say. The writing is on the wall as to who made a mark in my life !

Life is about building relationships for a progressive society - whether at home, with our friends or with our colleagues at work. Each of us have unique talents, thoughts, perspectives and interests that could add great value to final outcomes.

We may want to be like ‘crepe tape’ that can bind, be used for mapping and perhaps a great help while we paint and yet be easy to peel off after the job is done.

Likewise, being there for our family, friends and team members at the right time to accelerate mutual success through collaboration is key to making a mark and not causing a scar in the lives of many !