I was very excited to receive an instruction from my Headquarter in Jakarta (Pejambon) that I would be transfered to our Embassy in Tokyo. Having been posted for more than 2 years in a hardship post country (1995-1997), I got bored of having simplicity and not-very-challenging circumstances in my daily jobs and activities. I needed something else, a more dynamics challenge, demanding jobs and lively surroundings.
As a matter of fact, the existing regulation allowed us to be transfered to other country, after being more than two years posted in a hardship country. There I was.. to become a member of a big embasssy in an advanced country of Japan.
I looked forward to being a staff at the Deparment for Political Affairs at the Embassy in Tokyo. I imagined such a very challenging ones to come, dealing with so many political affairs-related works. I would have paper works to make, many domestic political issues to read, many reports to write, many meetings to attend as well as many occasions to socialise, to meet people. In the end, there would had been many lessons I could learned.
I admitted that I was an arrogant junior staff myself and got showed-off. I thought I was a smart, dilligent and multi-talented staff myself. I still remembered when my superior asked me to introduce myself, I told him proudly that previously I worked at Balitbang (Research and Development Agency) and got accustomed to deal with paper works and wrote many articles published in various newspapers.
My Superior reponded wisely by saying, “Well, Ok. We should be in a good team.. I need your help in dealing with political affairs. Your background is very much related with our business here so that hopefully there wouldn’t be any difficulty for you to adjust yourself with the jobs”
“I believe so, Sir. Insha Allah..”
One day, I submitted a report I had made to him for correction. To me, it was a good report I made in such a very quick way. He received my submission with thanks and said he would read it before faxing it to Jakarta.
After a while, he told me that the report was not ready yet to be sent to Jakarta and asked me to make correction together. Then I sat in front of my computer to write, while he stood up beside me to advise and discuss.
My superior was my senior and more experienced. He was Head of the Department for Political affairs. In fact he was not the kind of person to easily trust to what his staff doing. He liked to get involved in the correction process. I appreciated him and should be no problem at all for me. What would happen?
I thought he would ask me to change some words or modify some sentences to the correct ones. The correcting process was going on. Unexpectedly, it was not like what I thought. He was not just asking me to write but discussing all the words and sentences he proposed for correction. It was not an interesting discussing moment I enjoyed, actually. He discussed word by word of the report in order to find the most appropriate expresion. I had never been trusted to make the report by myself. We always made report together with full of discussion. So it crossed to my mind that I was not that good, that smart like what I always thought so far.
The time came when he was on-leave. In the absence of my superior, I had a chance to make the report myself without any more correction. Using his standard, I tried my best to make every single report. And when he was back to office, I informed him on some reports I had made on his behalf.
I felt so thrilled when he said that all the report I made were fine and met the standard he alwas suggested. From that time on, he trusted me to make the report by myself and to sign it. I found my confidence and dignity after being decreased for quiet sometime.
All the moments were very memorable one I ever had in my life. That was the time when I realized that I knew nothing on making a report. My humble, calm and wise superior was extremely a very smart senior I had. You cannot judge the book from the cover, right? That’s really happening to me. My arrogance, confidence and boasting attitude ever started to decrease. I began to learn many eloquent lessons from him, especially on how to make a very well-expressed and structured report.
Among the lessons on reporting, as fas as I can remember, were on his “basic physolophy” of reporting. He offen stressed on the importance to have a report in a clear, efficient and not-to-long sentences. The inresting one is when he reminded me that we are not like a jounalist in the sense that the style, contents and point of view of the report should be, must be, different. We had our own point of views in reporting something.
Intention of the report is not only to inform the facts to the headqurter but also the core issues behind. Besides, there should be a suggestion on what proper position, action as well as policy should be taken. Eventually, making report is not like making a thesis. No need to have such a long sentence and too many theoritical analysis etc.
There were still many things he adviced me I shouldn’t explain it here. You can mention many things else yourself. That’s only a case, an important and memorable one I have in my career. I have learned that never ever underestimate your seniors since there is a wiseword saying “Experience is the best teacher”
Den Haag, December 10 2014
In memoriam of my respected senior, the late H.E. Mr. Ribhan Abdul Wahab, former Indonesian Ambassador to Amman, Yordan. I have learned so many lessons from him in my early posting. May Allah blessed you.. You are always in my memory..