Impermanence and Diligence

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By Raju Mandhyan

STORIES IN New York claim that the way fathers in the apparel trade initiated their little sons into cutthroat business was by making them stand on a tall table and asking them to jump. “Jump,” they used to say, “trust me I will catch you!” And when the kid jumped the father would step aside and let the kid come crashing to the ground. “Never ever trust anyone in this business and that includes your father,” he’d admonish.

A bit extreme, I know, and it is a story. Stories are made up to make a point. The point being that one ought to be extremely, if not obsessively, diligent when it comes to conducting business anywhere and everywhere in the world. Scores of times I have invested time and money in the wrong people, in the wrong business, and banks that went belly up. It is not that all people and businesses are out there to cheat and dupe you. It is just that things change. Things are always in a flux. It is called impermanence.

Time and circumstance take over people’s lives, then their priorities and, sometimes, their values take a hit. All good thinkers, businesspeople need to take the impermanence of life into account when making promises or expecting others to fulfill theirs.

I share this because last month a friend bought a pre-loved car, paid a 100% in cash, and trusted the seller to transfer ownership to his name and mail the final documents. Thankfully the car is in his garage but legally it is still owned by the seller. It is not that he will not get the papers, but the chase can get stressful.

So it helps being diligent. In fact, I recommend being meticulously diligent while buying or selling anything:

• Make sure to take time to know, inspect, and study well the product or service you are investing in.

• Make sure that you understand the terms, the conditions, and the long-term promise the product or service makes.

• Take time to study how payment is to be made or received if you are a seller, in advance and well enough to avoid errors.

• It is best to pay in completion way after you receive, inspect, and test the service unless you are working with legit, reliable, and known sources.

• Always document all that you can before giving or taking delivery. No shame in this if you do it professionally and politely.

My father, also from the rag trade, used to say “measure twice, cut once.” In the Philippines there are many terms that express similar sentiments. Here are some and you can take your pick: masyadong masigasig, masinsinang pag-ingat, maging manapuri, etc. Do note that most of them have the ‘ma’ prefix similar to maximum, major, and mahatma.

I do hope all this makes a point for you. Trust people, recognize impermanence, and practice maximum diligence. Other than that, do remember that the sky is always high, water is always wet, and life in the Philippines is always more fun as long as you do not let your kids jump off a tall table and not catch them.


Raju Mandhyan author, coach and learning facilitator.