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19 September 2015

Amazing real life success stories....

I had written this post in LinkedIn

I love reading news papers here in India during the summer season.
Throughout the year, the newspapers in India are filled with negativity. If it is not a story about a corrupt politician looting the country, it will be a story of rape in some parts of the country. If it not that, then it will be a story of a farmer committing suicide unable to pay off his debt. The stories range from bonded labour, murder, rape, corruption, political shenanigans, communal riots....

However, towards the end of the spring, some time in end of march, journalists undergo a significant transformation. Even the hard nosed, tough as nails journalists shed  their customary cynicism and negativity and start reporting stories of hard work, success and positivity.

The reason? This is the time when examination results are announced in India.

Stories abound of children who braved extremely dire situations to emerge spectacularly successful. The papers show the pictures of proud children, with hopes, dreams and pride glowing in their eyes standing with their parents or teachers or both.

Their humility is amazing. Almost all of them attribute their success to the support they received from their parents and teachers, with hardly anyone attributing their success to their intelligence or capability.

Best reads are the stories of those children who braved very torrid situations, who literally 'burned the midnight oil' and who came out magnificently victorious.

Take the case of Shalini for example. She scored about 85% marks in the PUC examiniations. Coming from a very poor family, she had to take care of her ailing father, who has been bedridden for over a decade and her younger brother, who is suffering from cancer. She used to help her mother by getting up at around 4.00 AM and working as a domestic maid in about 4-5 houses before going for her studies at about 7.00 AM.

The story of 'Pratapgarh Brothers' is another example of success through focus and hard work and overcoming tough challenges. Brothers Raju, aged 18, and Brijesh, aged 19, both cracked the prestigious IIT entrance examination, presumably the toughest examination in the world. This is the entrance exam to the reputed IITs in India. Both the brothers came in the top 500 out of about 500,000 students who appeared for the exam.

Amazing, simply amazing.

Shri Dharmaraj Saroj, their father, works as a daily wage laborer in the state of Uttar Pradesh. During one half of the year, he goes to Kolkata, leaving his family behind, to work as a construction worker. Apparently their mother is yet to fully comprehend the enormity of her children's achievement.

How must it feel, to have reached the limits of one's ability to experience happiness?

To avoid doing the work of taking the cow out to graze, the brothers used to ask complex mathematical riddles to each other. The riddles have to be cracked in the mind, without the use of pen and paper. The brother who could not crack the riddle will have to take the cow out to graze !!!

Then you have the story of three girls, Keerthana, Keerthiga and Mohana Priya, who were former child labourers and who were rescued by NCLP (National Child abour Project) and were given opportunity to further their education. They came out scoring upwards of 90% in the SSLC examination in Tamilnadu.

It is a deluge of inspirational stories. There is the story of Chandana R, Saniya Khanum and Tulasi BM, children of daily wage laborers, who hail from the hinterland of India where Orthodoxy prevails, where girls are discouraged from studies (let alone higher studies), these girls scored upwards of 90% marks in the SSLC exam in Karnataka.

Talk of grit.

There is more. Of twin sisters Sindhuri and Manjari, both of whom scored above 96% in the SSLC Exam, of Shruthi, Kokila and Visually Impaired Manu Kumar, who received multiple Gold Medals for their performance in examinations conducted by Mysore University, of Karthik, a former child laborer, who scored high marks in +2 examination and who want to become a Cardiologist...

Each one is a story of big dreams, clear goals and focused effort towards achieving those goals. None of the children allowed their circumstances to dictate their performance. While many want to get into India's staple careers of a doctor or an engineer, some of them want to chart a different path. At least one of them wants to become a teacher.

Especially heartening is the number of girls who have surmounted obstacles to achieve their goal. In many parts and many cultures of India (that is correct, there are many cultures in India, not just one 'Indian Culture'), it is still very difficult for a girl to dream big. That these girls, and many more such success stories, achieved what they did is a tribute to their grit and single minded obsession.

These stories are humbling as well. While many of us go around complaining about minor obstacles that stand in the way of our goals and find fault with the situation or the environment or the weather, these children have gone about their work undaunted and without allowing adversity to dictate terms.
These kids have experienced success. They have seen the impact of working with great clarity towards a single goal. This experience will stand them in good stead in future.

In the mean time, I wish the journos will maintain their positivity over the monsoon season as well.

18 September 2015

The future is where you will live.....

This is a post that I wrote for 'If I were 22 again' (#ifIwere22) series in LinkedIn. You can read it directly in LinkedIn

If I were 22 again, (#IfIwere22), there are two advices that I will give myself.

One, get out of emotionally draining situations.

Two, stay focused on the future. That is where you are going to live

First about getting out. I started my career in a steel making company in eastern parts of India. The job was routine but tough. I was handling the operations of the plant and was working in three shifts.
Every day was the same. Sleep, get up, go to factory, come back, go to club in the evening, come home, have dinner and sleep off. Had you asked me what I would have been doing one year hence, I would have answered with the above routine.

I was not learning anything new. I was not growing intellectually. Ergo, I was decaying.

Something kept me going in that job. Probably it was my ego. I did not want to be known as a quitter. I did not want to leave the job without an option in hand.

Back then, there were not many options for an operations engineer doing routine. Even now there are not many.

God knows I thought about quitting a thousand times. All those times the fear of quitting without an option in hand kept me back in my job that I did not enjoy.

Finally, when I decided to quit, I found that there were many options out there. I moved into a new field, learned a lot, grew as an individual and continue to do that.

I found email and social media. I opened my first email account, learned computer languages, started my blog, became a member in LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram...

I wish I had quit earlier. That is the advice that I will give myself. Do not stay in situations that drain your energy. There are plenty of options out there. Unless you take the plunge, you won't know about them.

Second advice will be about the future. When I started my career back in late 80's, the world was run by 'Old Economy'. Suddenly things changed. Technology started changing the paradigm. The way we did stuff underwent sea change. Computers started replacing inefficient resources. 22 year olds started teaching 50 year olds...

Keep eyes open for big changes, what are known as Mega Trends. Learn about them. Read up, make notes, learn about them. Be an active participant in the world around you. See what others are doing, why and how.

It is very easy to get stuck in your area of expertise. That is your comfort zone.

But world is changing pretty fast. It is possible that your comfort zone may be replaced with something new in an instant.

The only way to handle change is to be one step ahead of it. The only thing constant in the future is change.

So my second advice? Anticipate change, prepare for it and adapt to it.

If you do not focus on future, you will be past. Very quickly.

#IfIwere22, I would be excited by the potential that the future offers.