The funny thing about life is that you realize the value of something only when it begins to leave you. As my hair turned from black, to salt and pepper, I have begun to realize the importance of youth. At the same time, I have begun to truly appreciate some of the lessons I have learnt along the way. I hope you will find them useful when you plan your career and life.
The first thing I have learnt is that we must always begin with our strengths. From the earliest years of our schooling, everyone focuses on what is wrong with us. There is an imaginary story of a rabbit. The rabbit was enrolled in a school. Like all rabbits, it could hop very well but could not swim. At the end of the year, the rabbit got high marks in hopping, but failed in swimming. The parents were concerned. They said, “Forget about hopping. You are good at it any way. Concentrate on swimming.” They sent the rabbit for swimming tuitions. And guess what happened? The rabbit forgot how to hop! As for swimming, have you ever seen a rabbit swim? While it is important for us to know what we are not good at, we must also cherish what is good in us. That is because it is only our strengths that give us energy to correct our weaknesses.
The second lesson I have learnt is that a dollar earned is of far more value than ten found. My friend was sharing with me the story of his eight-year-old niece. She would always complain about the breakfast. The Mom tried everything possible, but the child remained unhappy. Finally, my friend took the child to a supermarket and bought one of those ready-to-cook packets. The child had to cut the packet and pour water in the dish. After that, it took two minutes in the microwave to be ready. The child found the food to be absolutely delicious. That difference was that she had cooked it! In my own life, I have found that nothing gives as much satisfaction as earning our rewards. In fact, what is gifted follows the old rule of come easy, go easy. I guess we only know the value of what we have struggled to earn it.
The third lesson I have learnt is that no one scores hundred every time. Life has many challenges. You win some and loose some. You must enjoy winning. But do not let it go to the head. The moment it does, you are already on your way to failure. And if you do encounter failure along the way, treat it as an equally natural phenomenon. Accept it, look at your own share in the problem, learn from it and move on. The important thing is when you lose; do not lose the lesson.
The fourth lesson I have learnt is the importance of humility. Sometimes, when you get so much in life, you really start wondering whether you deserve all of it. We have so much to be grateful for. Our parents, our teachers and our seniors have done so much for us that we can never repay them. Many people focus on the shortcomings, because no one can be perfect. But it is important to first acknowledge what we have received. Nothing in life is permanent but, when relationship ends, rather than becoming bitter, we must learn to savor the memory of the good things while they last.
The fifth lesson I learnt is that we must always strive for excellence. One way of achieving excellence is by looking at those better than ourselves. Keep learning what they do differently. Emulate it. But excellence cannot be imposed from the outside. We must also feel the need from within. It must become an obsession. It must involve not only our mind but also our heart and soul. Excellence is not an act but a habit. Ultimately, your only competition is yourself.
The sixth lesson I have learnt is never give up in the face of adversity. It comes on you suddenly without warning. One can succumb to self-pity, wring your hands in despair or decide to deal with the situation with courage and dignity. Always keep in mind that it is only the test of fire that makes us find steel. If we persevere long enough, we can put any problem into its perspective.
The seventh lesson I have learnt is that while you must be open to change, do not compromise on your values. Mahatma Gandhi said that you must open the windows of your mind, but you must not be swept off your feet by the breeze. You must define that your core values are and these values are not so difficult to define: values like honesty, integrity, consideration have survived for generations. At the end of the day, it is values that define a person more than the achievements. Do not be tempted by shortcuts. The short cut can make you lose your way and end up becoming the longest way to the destination.
And the final lesson I learnt is that we must have faith in our own ideas even if everyone tells us that we are wrong. There was once a newspaper vendor who had rude customer. Every morning, the customer would walk by, refuse return the greeting, grab the paper off the shelf and throw the money at the vendor. The vendor would pick up the money, smile politely and say, “Thank you, Sir.” One day, the vendor’s assistant asked him, “Why are you always so polite with him when he is so rude to you? Why don’t you throw the newspaper at him when he comes back tomorrow?” the vendor smiled and replied, “He can’t help being rude and I can’t help being polite. Why should I let his rude behavior dictate my politeness?”
So it is my friends, with all of us. In my youth, I thought of myself as a rebel and was many times, a rebel without a cause. Today, I realize that my rebellion was another kind of conformity. We defied our elders to fall in line with our peers! Ultimately, we must learn to respond instead of reacting. When we respond, we evaluate with a calm mind and do whatever is most appropriate. We are in control of our actions. When we react, we are still doing what the other person wants us to do.
My all dear friends, I wish you all the best in your life, career and profession. I hope you achieve success in whatever way you define it and what gives you the maximum happiness in life. Remember, those who win are those who believe they can.
Love, regards and blessings
Deepak R. Jayakar