Back To Square 1


We were in an intense brainstorming (read trying to save our ass) session when a trivial query presented itself in front of us. I being a self-assumed expert on the topic blurted out a sudden response,as I expected everyone nodded except a fresher who had joined us a few weeks before.He not only tore down my solution but also provided a better (and correct) solution. The others kept on nodding. After the initial stigma of a fresher outsmarting me in front of the team I accepted that he was right. It was an eye opener for me and left me a bit restless and a whole lot ashamed. True, I had not touched base on that specific topic for a long while and had adamantly tried to learn newer things, I never expected such a situation. This scenario, although embarrassing, made me go back to my initial learning and cover all the loose ends. Apart from this, it also did well in mending my untamed professional ego and made me realize the reason I had opted for this field; to learn and grow. Moreover getting corrected by someone like a fresher was not that big a deal than what I had made in my head. It just meant that he had his facts straight (and also, unlike others he was an attentive listener).

As the rule of nature goes, I was not the only person in such waters but might be many others too and this being such a miniscule thing would be happening every other day in every other office. Maybe you too have been on one or the other side of the table. The thing that matters is how you reacted and what you learnt from it. It would be very easy for you to refute the other person’s claims and maintain your superiority, albeit in the long run this would put a strain on your knowledge and your relations with the team. No one likes an obnoxious snob who know nothing (No Jon Snow reference here). Such a member can never amass respect and trust of his team members; the bare essentials of a good team.

This incident remembered me days of the boring mathematics classes when our teacher while solving calculus equations were in need to use the phrase “back to square 1". There were two things that needed to be addressed then, the gibberish on the black board and the foreign phrase " back to square 1". Although I didn't understand the equation but the phrase got etched in my memory. Little did I know that 6 years later and 1 year down in my job I would realize its meaning in some brainstorming session and that too from a junior.

The phrase that probably originated from board games and made hugely popular by BBC’s football commentators means “back to where one started, with no progress having been made”. 

Nevertheless the people on the other side of the table, the fresher who gave the correct answer should also remain modest. They should take it as a live example of what happens when you become over confident instead of gossiping about it to anyone who listens (excludes your close friends, partner and the cafeteria guy).

-- A guest post by 
Syed Ashhad Wahab Nabi
For more articles from the pen of Ashhad visit below blogs



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