So, Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Four years ago, I returned to Colombo and started working in a relatively close-knit company. The owner of the company knew if the tea-boy farted. The internal politics were that extreme.

On the first day of work, I summoned my team and asked them what were their aspirations in life. All but five had any idea of their tomorrow. One wanted to be a restaurant manager, one wanted to be a creative director, another wanted to be a happily married housewife. The other two also had ambitions of similar nature.

Fifteen out of twenty didn’t know what the heck they wanted in life. They were just drifters. Educated, and salaried. They were content with the way things were, they were happy going to work and coming home, day after day. They didn’t think of anything beyond.

I was shocked. I was shocked at their complacency, I was shocked that they didn’t have any goals set in their careers.

Perhaps, they never had to. According to a recent global survey, my Paradise is one of the happiest places on earth, where people live happily ever-after. Some of them must have been genuinely happy with their monotonous life, the others of course knew where to kiss, in order to get by.

People rarely got fired in that company. Most companies in Sri Lanka don’t fire people easily.

I was brought-in, to make a difference. As promised, I brought that company a refreshing change. I shook the dust off the old establishment and gave them a fresh outlook. I improved their creative product and gave them the confidence to compete. I shouted, and screamed, and persuaded them to excel in their work.

Barely a year later, I was fired.

Telling the owner to f–off a few days earlier must have expedited the outcome.

Nevertheless, it was the best thing that ever happened to me that year. It couldn’t have come at a worse time, but it made me realise my true potential.

It gave me wings.

In the previous Big Red Agency where I worked in Dubai for over 13 years, one would get fired for not having any initiative. Being complacent and aimless in their career was an open invitation to get fired. An average employee did not last longer than two to three years.

Things were that simple, and that difficult.

In Paradise, however, things happen the other way around. Float along aimlessly with the typical islander attitude, and you are as settled as a rock on the seashore.


  1. Now you have really roused my curiosity. Have our paths ever crossed or was I on my way out of the motherland when you started out there?
    What you day is very true, however please note the ass kissing prevalent in any occupation in SL equals no other. Truly giving credence to the line a land like no other.

  2. Yep, land like no other, indeed!
    DD, One day we shall share a drink and figure out if our paths have truly crossed, what do you say?

  3. Islanders take everything for granted. Thats the problem. Its to do with the culture as well. Hiring & Firing, performance based pay etc... are never practiced. I fired two people. They took me to LT (labour tribunal). I won coz I was genuine. But the fact is, a job is often long term in SL. The law also supports it to some extent. Silly, but true.

  4. Sadly true about most SL companies... I remember an extremely colorful character cornering me in club bar one day to ask me if I knew what I needed to be successful. A 'long tongue' he tells me, 'so that you can lick all the arse's"

  5. @Makulowo, thanks. :)
    @Sigma, that could have been me, but no that wasn’t! Just brilliant.
    @NB (oh now you are NN!), yeah, they should actually get rid of trade unions too, international labour law is quite good now – making the unions obsolete. LT in SL is ‘reasonable’ I would say, if you have been fair, there’s nothing to worry about.

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  7. DD, my timing is not sure. But will let you know. Sorry, I published the comment (by habit I guess) and deleted it.

  8. haha very aptly put. iv always wondered how come we're such a relaxed people. its cool in a way though

  9. you made one person in that crazy island, (MADE BY WIJ) you learned how to stand alone, and what is life, thanks for everything, so just thing you have done big thing to this small island,

    we still learn from you, we will learn from you always,

    thanks for everything you have done for us, spatially for me, its never forget!!!!!!

  10. @WhaksteR, yep it is cool to be like that.
    @Anonymous, what can I say, thank YOU! Your words mean a lot to me.