Maturity versus Immaturity

One of my young colleagues asked me where does maturity end and immaturity begin ?  It is difficult to answer.  He was shocked at his interactions with one of his key stakeholders.  While it started off very maturely and informally, it ended with a bad taste in the mouth and a sense of immaturity. So, the question is ” where does immaturity begin and maturity end or vice versa ?” 

When you interact with someone senior, you assume that the person will be more mature than you.  Maturity is relative.  It has to be experienced to be believed.  Age and experience does not necessarily guarantee maturity in anyone.  I have met a lot of young students and aspiring professionals, who have displayed exceptional maturity.  On the other hand, I have met senior professionals, who are yet to mature.

So, how does one deal with immaturity ?  In my view, maturity is a state of mind.  It has to evolve for a person.  Some of us gain maturity early while others take more time.  It is our ability to adapt to different kinds of persons and their relative level of maturity that makes us successful.  We may sometimes take light hearted humour as informal.  Then it may lead to informal interactions and then when one fine day informality is misunderstood by the other person, it hurts us and is termed as immaturity.

Does it mean that we should avoid informal interactions ?  I would not say so.  I always believe in creating a work environment, where informality prevails.  We should not only be physically accessible to our team members and colleagues but also mentally and emotionally at all times.  However, we need to learn where to draw the line.  It is easier said than done.  One needs to learn by experience where informality ends and formality begins.  It is a very thin line and we are bound to err many a time.

So this colleague asked me –  “How to deal with the immaturity of his key stakeholder?”. One needs to gauge the behaviour of others and learn to draw the line.  The line is not dependant on age, experience or seniority.  It is based on relative maturity.  One learns to draw the line by experience and most times by facing the consequences.  It is painful at times but one learns by facing it in real life.

I have seen this phenomenon at work and even in personal life.  It happens in the family and society as well.  We find unpredictable and irrational behaviour by very senior people.  It is difficult for youngsters to deal with them.  On the other hand, we find very mature and competent young people who wear maturity on their shoulders even before they gain enough experience.

I had a lot of questions from these young colleagues (as in the photo above) during a recent team building workshop on a boat in Bangladesh.

My learning in life is to moderate yourself than attempt to moderate the other person.  It is not easy for us to mould the behaviour of others.  It is easier to adapt our behaviour to suit the style of the other person.  As I said earlier, failure may be the stepping stone to success in many situations but there is nothing wrong with that too.  After all every sportsperson wins after losing many games.  Further, no sportsperson gives up after losing, even though the road to victory may be long and ardous.

Lets us begin the change today.

S Ramesh Shankar


I have always been impressed by the simplicity of the villagers.  I recently had the opportunity to visit a village on the outskirts of Dhaka and the experience was the same.  We were on a boat with our team on a team building exercise.  The organisers informed us that there was a village on our route along the shores of the river and if we were interested we could stop by.

This was a village of potters.  We stopped by and some of us ventured into the village.  As we landed, we were welcomed by a group of old villagers sitting on the bank.  They were clothed in simple muslin and were just relaxing on the shores.  They welcomed us with warm smiles and made us feel special even as we landed.  Then we went to the first hutment.  They were a group of artisans who were making a idol for worship for a religious festival in the ensuing months.  They not explained how they go about it but also were willing to share their idols for photographs.

Then we met a group of goldsmiths.  They were hand crafting silver and gold jewels.  They were happy to share their products and explain the process to us.  There was absolutely no attempt to hard sell anything to us.  They did not take undue advantage of a group of tourists to sell their produce taking advantage of our visit.  They were not at all disappointed when we did not end up buying anything from them.

The third hutment was a potter making pots for making yoghurt.  He explained how it was made and then fired in the kiln.  He further explained how it is marketed in the city. He also did not try to sell his pots to us but was more keen to explain the process of pot making.  This is unlike the city folk, who do not lose an opportunity to sell their produce even when we do not need them.

The last hutment was that of a lady potter who was actually making pots from mud through a manual process(as in the photo above).  When asked if a motorised process would have been more helpful and productive to her, she replied that she could not afford it and she was happy to do it the manual way.  She happily displayed how effortlessly she converted raw wet mud into a beautiful pot .  She then explained how it is dried and then heated in a kiln before is it cooled in sand and then goes for sale.

The best part of the trip was when this lady had kept some mango fruit dried up in a open mud plate.  When some of us enquired as to what was this used for ? , she explained the process of making dried mango papad.  She further added that it was taken by the villagers as a side dish and also helped in neutralising the summer heat.  She requested us to wait and offered us a sample of this tasty mango papad.  She did not accept any money from us as she said that it was just a small sample for us to taste it.

Such is the simplicity displayed by the villagers.  I am not sure if we get corrupted by materialism in life.  As we live in cities with all comforts of life, we forget the basic human values of life.  We are not interested in welcoming our guests.  We are not keen to share our knowledge or skills.  We guard our physical territories as if someone is always looking to invade us and attack us.  We are commercial in all our dealings and look for economic again in all human transactions.

It is time to wake up and go back to our roots.

It is time to learn “simplicity” from our village folks ?

S Ramesh Shankar

Personality versus Character

One of my young talented and aspiring colleague once asked me as to “how do we build our social image” ?  He requested me to write about it.  I was wondering where to begin and where to end.  But thanks to the social media today, I got a forward of a beautiful quote, which reads as ” Personality is what we do when everyone is watching” and “Character is what we do when nobody is watching”.  This gave me an insight to write on this subject.

All of us have two faces in life.  We have an external face, which we show to the world and we have an inner face, which we guard inside us.  We try our best to guard the internal face so that it is visible only to our near and dear ones. The external face is public and can be seen by the world.  This duality in our life defines our personality.  So, our personality is something which everyone watches and our character is something, which is intrinsic. It manifests itself during adversities in our life.

Let us start from school.  We want to be seen as the best behaved student, good in academics and sports.  We want to be the best behaved child in front of our teachers and our parents.  We want the world to talk about us all the time.  But, how do we behave when nobody watches us.  If we face a tempting situation do we fall prey to the temptation.  Many of us may have stolen cash from our parents wallet to fulfill our unfulfilled desires due to lack of adequate pocket money.  Would we do it in front of our parents.  

This nature continues in our college days.  We grow up in age but less in maturity.  We continue to impress the people whom we want to in our life.  But our inner self is always a bit different than our outer self.  We zealously guard our inner image to ourselves.  We do not want the world to look down upon us as a cheat or a person, who betrays someone’s trust.

Then we get into a job.  We gradually mature.  We still want create the best first impressions.   The two faces of our personality continues although may be less conspicuous.  We gradually try to bridge the gap but our social image is far more important than our actual image as we realise it.  We are different at home and at work or at least try to be.  Although difficult, our facards continue in adequate display at work.  Our image with team members, peers and bosses are different.

It is this struggle all of us go through in life and it is real.  We need to accept this reality as inevitable.  We could try to bridge this gap between “Personality” and “Character” – the outer and inner image of ourselves.  The only way I have learnt to bridge this gap is to reduce the gap between what we say and what we do.  It is difficult but not impossible to achieve.  Some of us may take longer than other to bridge this gap.  But it is attainable.  The earlier we realise this the better for our personal growth.

It is like in the photo above the personality of the person is like the mask worn by the person and the character is the face behind the mask not visible to us. 

All of us are human and hence there is nothing wrong to realise that all of us have a gap.  The margins may differ but none of us are perfect.  The good news is that it is possible to bridge the gap if we try to do so.

Can we start the journey today ?
S Ramesh Shankar