• News
  • Columns
  • Interviews
  • BW Communities
  • Events
  • BW TV
  • Subscribe to Print
BW Businessworld

Anecdotes That Resonate -2: The Man Who Thought He Was A Rat

At work our subordinates often make sincere efforts to develop and grow internally and to evolve but we rarely acknowledge that change.

Photo Credit :


Once upon a time there lived a young man named Richard, who through dint of sheer hard work gained admission to a leading management institute in North America.  He topped his class and was hired by a large global technology firm. 

Richard’s career moved on an accelerated track and with success came the usual trappings, a large house with a pool, electronic gadgets and expensive cars in the driveway. And every six months, Richard and his family would holiday at some exotic location. 

During the next ten years Richard was promoted as the youngest Vice President in the company and made in-charge of operations in two geographies. He now spent more time visiting various locations and had less time for his family. As a consequence the various get-togethers with friends and holidays with family soon turned into distant memories.

His wife and his friends often taunted him as being caught up in the rat race and he could sense that his wife and he were slowly drifting apart. Disagreements over small issues occurred more frequently accompanied by sharp exchanges where she accused him of behaving like a rat chasing after some crumbs of cheese offered by his company.

Richard felt helpless that in spite of his best efforts, no one appreciated his point of view. Wasn’t he was doing this for his family? The inner turmoil affected his work and it was not long before his boss sensed that all was not well and decided to talk with him.

Initially Richard denied that there was a problem but later broke down and shared his fears that he was turning into a rat and would soon lose his family and friends.  

Realizing that Richard had suffered a nervous break down, his boss, truly worried that his star employee had probably gone into depression and reached the point of no return, arranged for him to meet with a renowned clinical psychologist. 

The doctor diagnosed the problem as acute paranoia in which his patient was deeply affected by the constant jibes and taunts by his near and dear one. After seven days of intensive sessions the doctor was happy to see remarkable progress. Richard’s delusions had completely disappeared and a delighted doctor shook his hands and showed him out of his clinic. 

Ten minutes later as the doctor settled down to talk with his next patient, the doorbell chimed. The doctor answered the door, which opened directly on to a busy road, and was surprised to see Richard standing there.

 “I hope all is well Richard?” asked the doctor.

“Yes doctor. I am perfectly fine but there is a small problem,” said Richard. He then turned around and pointed to across the street,  “ There is a cat out there and he is looking at me.”

“ I am sure that should not bother you Richard. You and I know very well that you are not a rat anymore,” said the doctor patting Richard’s shoulders.

“ Of course you and I surely know that doctor. But then does that cat know it?” asked a visibly worried Richard.

Moral of the story:

How often do we nominate our employees to attend training programmes but fail to notice and acknowledge positive changes in them when they return!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tags assigned to this article:
anecdotes relationships

Jayaram Easwaran

Author, Consultant, and Independent Board Director at Jindal Stainless

More From The Author >>