It was the wonderful garden that was the decider. Avatar bought the house because of all those beautiful flowers: 3 varieties of marigold (the large yellow ones, the red ones, the small yellow and red ones), 5 varieties of rose, 2 varieties of jasmine, myriad other flowers. There was a vegetable patch too: ladies finger, beans and brinjal. There were two varieties of Mangoes, 3 papaya tress, a drum stick tree, several banana herbs, a couple of teak trees. The foundation of the house covered just 1500 sq feet on this 6000 sq feet plot. It was like living in a small forest amidst the mad noise of the city. And to top it all, the garden was behind the house, offering privacy, which Avatar appreciated. The previous owner had taken good care of the place, and it was impressive!
Once Avatar settled his family in the new house, he got busy. The pace of work seemed to double every few months. But he coped well. He was promoted to manage a large team (his first Manager level position), he responded by working more hours. His team members left seeking greener pastures, and he found it difficult to replace them quick enough, so he dealt with it by working even longer hours to tide through the crisis. The organisation changed its structure, and Avatar was at the forefront to support and help people transition through this phase. The organisation had a crisis when the leadership team quit one by one in a span of 6 months, and he took on the responsibility of many projects, which resulted in even longer working hours. But all through these crises Avatar kept his head down, and delivered exceptional performance. And the new leadership team was impressed.
Along with changes, came new processes. The Leadership Team requested the head of HR to put in place a promotion process that would streamline all promotions. In response HR introduced a process that required potential promotees to go through an Assessment Center, which the Leadership Team heartily approved of. With the experience that Avatar had and his performance of the last three years, he was sure he would sail through. But, alas, confidence need not necessarily translate into performance. Avatar found that out with disappointment and regret. In the midst of all these emergencies, he had forgotten to spend time on his own development. The feedback he received said it all: you are very good at delivering at the level you are, but, you have a long way to go to scale up to the next level! This after taking on and delivering exceptionally during the crises that the organisation went through, one after the other. Some from the Leadership Team of course made attempts to push Avatar’s “case” through. The HR head insisted that the agreed process be followed.
Failure to clear the Assessment Center turned to demotivation, which in turn lead to minor illness: cold, cough, fever, tiredness and the like. That’s when Avatar decided to take a break. He applied for two weeks leave. Leave after 3 whole years! And he stayed at home. Doing nothing. And, a long long time after moving into the new house, he noticed the garden. The garden was no longer beautiful as it was when he bought the house. Several years of neglect had taken a toll on the garden. It had a bleak desolate look, with only a few patches of greenery and a few flowering plants: just a few.
While he stood staring in dismay and regret at his garden, his mom quietly commented: “My son, your God given talent is just like this garden. If you do not tend to it, it will carry a barren look: scanty in its existence, deficient in its form, pitiful in its comport and sterile in its appearance.”
Avatar stood there gazing at the neglected garden, with his head hanging.