The story goes, that when Davd Lean was making ‘Lawrence of Arabia,’ they arrived in South Yemen, where large parts of the movie were to be filmed. The first task was to find the perfect camel for Peter O’Toole to be filmed riding. There were a number of stringent criteria for this camel. It must be whitish. It must glide across the desert like a ship in full sail. It must have long photogenic eyelashes. It must be physically imposing in close-up… You get the idea.
So, the producer, director, and Omar Sharif (who could speak Arabic), set off on a guided tour of the Yemeni oases (this was in the 1950’s). At the first oasis that they came to Sharif felt that he had found the perfect camel. It fulfilled all of the criteria that they had for ‘Best Camel in a Leading Role.’
But David Lean quite rightly remonstrated, "How do you know? This is the first oasis that we have stopped at, I can still see our Hotel in the distance. This is the first camel that we have seriously considered. For goodness sake, there are thousands of oases stretching along the horizon, for all we know, there could be millions of camels far more photogenic than this one. We need to go and consider our options first. We can always come back."
So, they set off and spent a leisurely month inspecting the camels of South Yemen. Not one came close to the sheer star potential and animal magnetism of the first camel that they had seen.
So, they circled all the way back to the first oasis, and had Omar Sharif ask the headman in Arabic, "Where is that gorgeous creature that we were interested in?"
"Tulimkula," أكل إلتهم ذهب لّكل تناول الفطار أكل الوجبة تغ أكره على the headman replied. Or, "We ate him," in English.
And so the moral of the story goes. You need to know a perfect camel when you meet one.
This rule, of course, can be applied to a very many decisions in life.
In my case, I have been chasing a particular job for a while. The Vice President said to me, when I was being second-interviewed by him, "If you can’t be a complete pr***, then don’t sign the contract, because it won’t work. We have 30 very good devs here, who will just diddle you along and the projects will come in any old-how, rather than tight and on schedule…"
I have been offered this role, and I know it is going to be hard work. Conference calls with The States at 7am and 10pm. 30 devs to ‘get my shoulder on’ (in Rugby parlance). Instant coffee. Long days. Hard work. Highly visible performance metrics. But not so unreasonable that I have a good reason to turn it down.
Last night I saw my dream job (a different job in a different city), advertised for the first time. I rang the headhunter in question, who said, "It’s a pretty busy day here, let me read your CV and get back to you." I tried to explain that I had other options on the go at the same time, but these people can’t be pushed.
So, the odds are that I won’t get the dream job. The timing more-or-less guarantees it.
So, I am facing a potential breach-of-contract situation. I can’t slow the other lot down (because, of course, they know what I am doing, or at least guess.) In the past I have received advice to the effect that I should front them and say, "Please release me, if I came, my heart wouldn’t be in it, you wouldn’t get value for money from me, I’d do a half-arsed job, blah blah blah." But I can never quite bring myself to do that. Perhaps if I did, I would prove the VP’s point!
In this case, is a bird in the hand worth two in the bush?
My ethics/ integrity/ whatever dictate to me that if I go there, I do my level best to add significant value for at least five years (or until they get sick of me), and not keep looking outside at the supposedly greener grass.
It’s a bitch being a man of such integrity and character. Sometimes I wish I were a weasel.
As I keep telling my wife, we spiritual giants don’t get ratty, though we are sometimes vexed in our spirits…