I have a very funny memory of when I first landed in Dubai. My father had established a small shop here and I was summoned to assist him in the business. He had instructed me to make a phone call to him after landing at the Dubai International Airport, so that he could send a vehicle to escort me to the shop. I was under the impression that my father owned a big shop and might have arranged for a chauffeur driven car. But when the vehicle arrived, my assumptions were proved wrong. It was not a car, but a goods carrier vehicle and I had to travel sitting beside the driver in a narrow space. The balloon of my imagination burst fully when I saw our shop for the first time. It was a warehouse. The front portion was being used as a shop and the remaining area was being used to store hundreds of food products. My father, the owner of the shop, was living in a corner space, which I shared with him that day onwards.
That evening when we were having dinner together, I asked him how I might help him in the shop management and his reply felt strange. He asked me to first take up the everyday activities like cooking, sweeping, cleaning and loading-unloading the bags. I was a bit surprised, and disappointed too. I questioned internally why my father was treating me like a labourer. What was the reason of summoning me if he only needed a helper? But I remained silent and followed his instructions for two reasons. Firstly, my father was hot tempered and secondly, I did not have the courage to question him.
After two decades, my father decided to retire from the business and made me the manager of the shop. One day I got the chance to ask him about that unanswered question. Sensing his good mood, I asked him what the reason was behind getting me involved in such trivial activities. He smiled and said, “Oh! I thought you must have understood it long back. Listen son, I wanted to create a successful businessman of you. Had I treated you like my pampered child, you probably would not have understood the value of hard work, discipline, obedience and money. I wanted to eradicate the ego of ownership from your mind right from the beginning. I wanted to teach you that work is worship and there is no discrimination like prestige and trivial. The activities which I assigned you taught you the importance of self-reliance and perseverance. Without understanding them you might have ended up as a spoiled person. Remember, if we wish to progress in life, we should keep our ego away and adopt humbleness.”
Friends, ego is our most dangerous enemy. An apt description of it by Friedrich Nietzsche, the philosopher is worth pondering upon — 'Whenever I climb, I am followed by a dog called ‘Ego’.'
Dr Dhananjay (Jay) Datar is the chairman and managing director of Al Adil Trading