Lesson learnt well in The Pioneer
In my new office the other day, after I finished preparing company literature on products like power interface unit, phase change material, nano-cooled green shelters, filter-less air conditioner, compressor-less AC, etc, our department needed a French translation of the product descriptions for the overseas market. As I volunteered to translate the matter, my boss looked amused. Immediately I remembered what a curse my versatility had proven in The Pioneer. I laughed and consciously changed the topic of discussion.
Eventually, our company had to pay a translator at the Alliance Française de Delhi an exorbitant Rs 6 per word for more than 30,000 words in the company literature, a task I could have done for free — my job profile does not include translation; therefore, no part of my salary can be considered to be the fee for the task — without compromising on quality.
That night I asked my wife to interpret the look on my boss's face when I had offered to translate the company literature. I asked her if my multi-faceted character is appreciated by so many people online, why it elicits negative responses in real life. She said people love to read about characters like me, but they find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that one such person is in their midst. A reader has this problem that he takes the protagonist of a story, even if it's non-fiction, for a super-human character. That, in turn, puts a notion in his sub-conscious that it's virtually impossible for such a person to exist in real life. If you claim to be one such 'existence', either you will be called a gasbag or, if within your interlocutor is convinced about your prowess, he will feel dwarfed in comparison. Hence his insecurity. Hence his adverse reaction.
On the other hand, if letting my colleagues know what I am capable of doing is misconstrued as bragging, not letting them know that I can help could be misconstrued as my being insensitive and indifferent to my employer's need.