Ranking allows for excellence, provides that bar to jump over a way
While the ranking helps, don't go in for the most popular school if it does not suit your needs
When People Matters sent me the theme for this month, it brought to my mind my childhood obsession with ranks. What is your rank in class? What rank does the school have? Which place is the house that I am in? How were we doing as a family against the chosen comparison for that summer? Life seemed like an unending march of ranking – real, imagined and forced upon.
I would love to dismiss this against our school grading system where the first is celebrated each year. But how do I explain to my son, in whose school everybody gets a medal, there is no ranking and no singling out and yet he will go through the same woes that I did?
I am no psychology expert but I see this everywhere! The colleague, who just a few seconds ago was delighted to receive a sizeable salary increment, is reduced to tears on finding out that his best friend received 2 per cent more!
Phew! And now my dear People Matters is perpetuating the same agony with ranking business schools, so everyone can go around preening that their school is better ranked than their spouses.
It is a fact of life that from happiness to success, everything is relative. My happiness is good only as long as it is better than the next one’s! Before you dismiss it as another material bunkum and think of retreating to the Himalayas or the nearest Ayurveda massage centre to ruminate on the ills of the ranked world, let me flip to the other side.
Ranking allows for excellence, provides that bar to jump over a way. It is a way to measure your success and help push yourself.
Ranking is a great way to make decisions. It makes my restaurant choices easier when I look up the rankings and my vacation choices better based on rankings provided by souls who have ventured before and had the goodness to update one of the online portals like Zomato or Trip Advisor.
It is the same with schools, colleges and pay packages – rankings provide the relativity we so need to calibrate to make decisions, set performance targets and decide where we stand.
However, when this relativity becomes the absolute standard with no context, then you get into the downward spiral of your rat race spinning out of control and run your down to a comparing unhappy soul!
Context matters to stay out of this vicious-absolutely-relative-life-sucking ranking cycle. (Phew I feel a lot better already).
Let me start by setting the context and telling you what do I mean by context with the help of the dictionary.
Context: The surroundings, circumstances, environment, background or settings that determine, specify, or clarify the meaning of an event or other occurrence. (en.wiktionary.org/wiki/context)
Idiomatically put “One man’s meat is another’s poison”. Therefore, while the ranking helps, the best school everyone is raving about may not be the best bet for you if it doesn’t suit your needs!
In the same vein, the school ranked best by others may not really be the best! It all depends on who is saying it? This whole ranking game is commercial business, remember! The first and last word is context in this ranking game.
Let us start with that blasted salary increase. What you got is important, what the guy or girl in the next cubicle got is a good comparison, but cannot be the yardstick for your happiness. Look at it from the increase perspective. Reflect on the efforts you put in, the value you created and your personal needs. I know I have included more relative items and this merits another 1,000 word column, but for now, just resolve not to base your happiness on somebody else’s increase but yours!
And about that school you want to go to, went to, or intend to send your child to! Ask yourself these questions:
Will this school play to my strengths – if you are someone who enjoyed the English class and detested the math class, signing up for the best engineering school in town is downright stupid!
Will I enjoy the environment and my fellows talk to past students, faculty and find out what kind of people go to this school.
What happened to folks who went to this school – and is that what you want happening to you. If you really don’t want to be that hard charging corporate type that the school seems to be churning, there is no point. On the other hand, if that’s what you want, go for it!
Can you afford it? Is it worth your or your parent’s savings – what is the return on investment? Very important. We are asking ourselves this question as we see many of our friends send their children to international schools that charge 50 per cent of our household income!
Eventually, let this be your decision and not one driven by what your parent’s want, or what your friends are doing.
Have fun, read the rankings but ensure your decision is based on context and what works for you! Don’t let ranks and relativity decide your happiness. As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
Elango R. is Executive VP - Emerging Geographies SBU and Global CHRO at Mphasis.