The other day, while reading Richard Bach’s bestselling book, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, I noticed a resemblance to a story closer home -- that of Janardhan Laxmansingh Sehgal.
Janardhan Laxmansingh Sehgal was a Medical Representative, and like Bach’s Jonathan, he worked tirelessly at getting better and better. He was out enthusiastically every day, calling on doctors and the trade, and generally working hard at his job. When not in the field, Janardhan (we’ll can him Jan, for short) was busy reading, learning and practising. Late at night, he would plan his next day’s work.
Initially, Jan’s colleagues were amused by his determined attitude, attributing it to the eagerness of a novice. They invited him to join them in some of their pastimes, but Jan was too involved in his job to take notice. Not long afterwards, Jan’s efforts began to produce results and he gained in strength. Some of his colleagues became envious and would criticize him. However, soon enough, Jan was left to himself, because his colleagues simply ignored him.
All this did not worry Jan too much. His field manager (FM) was on hand to encourage him. The FM acknowledged his achievements and urged him to strive for more. “Ambition is the force that will steer your efforts towards towards fulfillment,” said the FM, “but if your ambition exceeds your ability, frustration will result. So keep enhancing your abilities!” Jan considered this advice to be very valuable indeed.
With sincerity and diligence, Jan worked his way up the ranks to become Sales Manager at the company’s head office. The Head Office....wow! Surely this is like heaven, thought Jan. However, soon enough, his new responsibilities made him put things in perspective. “Success is a journey, not a destination,” someone had once told him. He understood that better now.
Jan took on his tasks with characteristic zeal. Sales soared and Jan’s achievements became legendary. And of course - one day this had to happen - Jan became Chairman of the board of directors of his company.
Jan was Chairman now, but he never forgot that he was a Medical Representative first. He unhesitatingly mingled with his field staff, inspiring them. Having the aura of a legend, new recruits would often query him on the ingredients for success. “If you have a burning desire,” Jan would say, “you can acquire infinite intelligence. So, kindle that fire!”
Borrowing from Socrates, Jan illustrated this point. He took a recruit to the swimming pool of the hotel in which their company was having a conference. Having asked the young man to get into the water, he pushed the recruit’s head and held it firmly under the water. The man struggled for a while before breaking free for a breath of air. “If you want success as much as you wanted air just now,” said Jan, “you will get it!” Now, that would require a burning desire indeed!
So that, in short, is the story of Janardhan Laxmansingh Sehgal. If you are wondering why you have not heard of this “legend” before, it is simply because Janardan, like Jonathan, did not really exist. But yet, they are both very much alive! That’s because there’s a lot of Jan and Jon in all of us.....if only we have that burning desire!
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This article appreared in Pharma Business, October 13, 2000.
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