BIKRAM VOHRA I have this friend who is into psycho-executive analysis which sounds very heavy, but what it means is that people are not happy in their work and he makes them feel better about the situation. For this, he gets loads of money, and has a waiting list into next year. He charges $300 an hour. What he does is also known as 'Motivation, and it is a very big thing these days. All of us want to be motivated, but evidently we havent a clue how to set about it. And there is this great wash of guilt that if we are not being taught 'Motivation, we are somehow creepy crawly in nature and should be stomped out of the rat race. I mean, what are you worth, you miserable sod, if you are not motivated. Actually, it is a whole new industry and you can buy dozens of books by unknown experts telling you how to get your professional life into order. Oh, yes, thats the cousin to the 'M word. Being professional. No one has ever figured out what it means and how it is measured but we are all big on it, and none of us would ever accept being unprofessional. So, we go our working years moaning about the protection of professionalism, except that we wouldnt recognise it if it slapped us in the face. I just love it when people say, I am very professional in my approach. I love it even more when someone says: But that isnt professional, and everyone looks at the speaker with dripping admiration and says, wow, what a guy. So, what is professional? Snitching on your colleagues to survive? Survival at any cost? Not rocking the boat? Rusting with the corrosiveness of status quo because, hey, who wants to get into trouble. Finding virtue in mediocrity because what if you excel and someone notices it, and what are you going to do then when your upstaged colleagues pull out their long knives and go for you because you made them look bad. Is that professionalism? Maybe, maybe not but look how much store we hold by the word, mincing about the place talking about this element in our lives when most of us are grotty and slithery and all we do is survive at all costs, even if it means doing the dirty. Into this brown, muddy little corporate puddle comes along this motivational expert and I look at him in awe. He says that what he does is to make people see the positive side of their jobs, so that there is more sunshine in their lives. I ask him if these are adults, who have finished college and stuff and are not certified morons. He says: Of course, some smart chaps there, for sure. And they cannot figure out the positive side of their jobs, these burning bright symbols of genius, they need to pay you to do it for them, I say shockingly. Crass, he says, you are being crass, you dont understand, people get frustrated and stale and my task is to give them the motivation to get out of the rut. How do you do that without paying them more, I ask. He says: salaries are not everything. Where do you live, I say, are you telling me that you get people motivated from staleness to sunbeam land and you dont mention money. Yes, he says, they respond and come out more productive. I say: I have to meet these people, people who would sit there listening to my friend dribble on about career movements and corporate camaraderie and job satisfaction and the sense of fulfilment without mentioning money. And come out like headlamps in a fog, thats what scares me. The trouble with you, he says, is that you dont have an open mind. My mind, I snap, is wider than the grand canyon. I just cant believe you are a success with this drivel. It isnt drivel, he says, its a therapy and it works, you know why it works. Tell me, I say, while holding my breath. And he says: Because I am a professional. Khaleej Times