In the Dark Knight, there’s a scene where Harvey Dent says “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain”.
When you first hear it, it sounds like one of those brainless lines from some low-budget movie, right? Like a random dialog from the movie ‘Torque‘ (oh yeah, not low-budget, but definitely sad dialogs).
But something about this line made it stick in my head. I wondered if and how it made sense. And then it struck me, while looking at it from the work perspective. That’s when it got some perspective.
Who is a hero? Just a regular girl or guy who does something beyond the ordinary. They do something good, they do something extra, they do something better! Selfless acts that surprise. That delight the average folk.
Now firstly, what happens with doing that extra is, that people are not expecting it.
Normal people live in continuous, monotonous cycles of predictable, normal and average things; the routine.
So, when you suddenly change that with “better” or “more”; they are surprised. They don’t expect it. Now this does not necessarily apply to work only, but to pretty much everything in life.
In the evening, on your way back from work, you offer your seat to someone who, say looks more tired than you. Even though they might not show it,
they’d be really surprised. [try Forward Pass]
Anyway, back to my point. So, when u do such “out-of-the-ordinary” things, people are initially taken aback. They’re grateful.
However, when you continue the ‘good deeds’ on a regular basis, they start getting used to it. Now ideally, they should realize and always know at the back of their minds, that what you are doing is much better than the ‘off-the-shelf’ normal. However, with time, they tend to forget, and your extra efforts now become the new normal.
This is quite a responsibility, and would be much easier to implement if the entire community (or the entire mankind for all i care) rose up to the new
levels of efficiency or goodness or whatever. But this does not happen. Most people take for granted that you have chosen to do what you do, that extra bit, which now has become the new normal, and is the minimum expectation that they now have from you.
So, now if you were to slow down, or pull back even a little bit; even though you might still be giving or delivering more than the old normal levels, for them, you are just under-delivering, or, you have suddenly turned into the bad guy, you’ve become inefficient, or you simply don’t care a *bleep* anymore.
Strange are the ways of the human kind.
To conclude, don’t lose hope. Because even if you find yourself being looked upon as the villain, it’s only a matter of time before the blind folk will realize the true worth of your efforts. However, till you get to that stage, it is very important that you have the patience and conviction to stick with what you believe in, and not meekly reconcile yourself with the herd. Stick to your guns, and you will see yourself going right back to being the hero in good time.
Because sooner or later, people will start to see things clearer.
They will see how your beliefs and principles are rock solid, compared to their fickle-mindedness and mediocrity.
And once you’re done giving this a thought, you might want to run through a very interesting article about why you should “Stop Trying To Delight Your Customers“, @ HBR, courtesy Matthew Dixon, Karen Freeman, and Nicholas Toman.