Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Confident, persistent, assertive...we want you!




The other day I glossed over an advertisement that read – If you are confident, persistent, assertive, disciplined and persuasive, We Want You! Beautiful! I said. If any human being has these qualities , then not just a company, the whole world needs such a person. If we can take a deeper look into these qualities and the combination that they form, then surely we'd have a better understanding of the inherent human tendencies and groom them into a positive frame of being. Let us make an analysis of each of these qualities and then watch their impact in combination.

Confidence - usually it has always been confused with arrogance. Confidence is that state of being which arises from a very 'clear stream of reason' and when this has lost its way, there is none but arrogance. Thus, oozing with confidence, is like a perfectly ripe fruit, that is juicy. It takes a whole lot of effort on the part of the plant before its fruits are perfectly ripe, almost like the most loving gift of a Mother (Nature), bestowed upon a dear child. Which means, it arises from a high degree of perfection in the task at hand, arising from an in-depth understanding of the subject and a high level of discipline in practice.

Persistence – perseverance and doggedness is the only way to keep driving one's own self into performing. – Old saying from Sant Kabir - Karat Karat Abhyaas Te Jadamati Hot Sujaan, Rasari Aawat Jat Te Sir(l) Per Padat Nisaan. [With repeated effort and practice even a thick headed can become Knowledgeable, Just as with continuous rub of rope on a stone (over a long period) leaves its mark] This is the primary requirement for any profession – sports, music, art or natural and humanitarian sciences, et al. Think of the days immediately after the twin (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) atomic explosions in Japan. There, inside a burnt down garage, two young lads were trying to figure out how to pick up the threads of their life and take it forward. From there emerged the SONY Company, a multinational firm that became a household name in the field of electronic equipments. They strived so hard that a time came when they were unable to find any visible error in their electronic manufacturing. Since 100% efficiency is technically and practically impossible and against the laws of nature, they started observing minutely. Close monitoring revealed that their error percentage was reduced to extremely miniscule levels. That led them to coin a different term, unknown to the world till then – PPM (defective parts per million). That meant that they had less than 10 defective pieces per million, i.e. 0.000009%, a Unique Achievement by Human Standards. Only this kind of sheer grit makes achievers out of ordinary people, none else. Achievers aren't different people, they just do ordinary things differently. Persistence cannot happen mechanically, nor can it happen with over enthusiasm. The art lies in striking a balance. An article in a National daily said that India's Prized Nuclear Programme, that brings teeth to its bargaining capacity with the world, is fed by Rural India! "Interesting!" I said. The report revealed how the best of the minds are running away abroad in search of a secure Profession with a bright Future!!! Leaving, students from rural India, to work on these Super-Speciality projects. Beautiful!
Don't they need bright and secure prospects? However, such a big dream (to work on important National Projects) is enough to ignite their minds and motivate them, bringing the best out of them to the fore. Not only this, whatever they achieve, it is indigenous, giving them a higher degree of satisfaction and sense of fulfilment, that many of these 'bright and secure future' seekers don't get. With these students' work, we are competitive in the world and best in quite a few sectors in Science and technology – unbelievable, isn't it? This proves that what is necessary is passionate and sincere effort to attain a dream. An Einstein used to fail in mathematics in school and an educationist of the stature of Tagore never liked school!! This is perseverance in real sense, to fulfill a dream; not by hook or crook, but by sincere and diligent effort. Assertion – this is a quality that is usually misunderstood with stubbornness and a very fine line marks the difference. Assertion of anything comes with a great sense of responsibility. It is usually said – assert your rights, but remember rights are always paired with duties. Assertion can never take place in a desensitised manner. It always keeps in view the overall perspective and acts in tandem with collective interest in mind. A deep sense of accountability is fundamental for being assertive in the right way, absolutely uncompromising in spirit. There is another aspect to this quality. In quite a few cases, we see that people are not assertive, because they feel that they need to be considerate, like Arjuna wanted to be considerate towards all those elders who were prepared to fight against him and siding dishonest. At that point of time, Krishna says, "abandoning all weaknesses, O' Arjuna, get up." Our scriptures and saints have always said- one who bears pain without complaining as much to blame as the one who inflicts it. Both are equal partners in the scheme of sin. Discipline – that state of mind, where one can single pointedly dedicates one's own self to the task at hand. This can happen only when - one is convinced of the benefits of the actions (the role of the intellect), - motivated enough to apply without falling prey to any kind of laziness (the aspect of mind) and – has a fit and stable body. Balance in Body-Mind-Intellect is an apriori to a spirited yet controlled effort for functioning, that too with the same effort and over a long period of time. Or else it is not discipline. One has to search out newer means to maintain a discipline (in the right spirit) If a batsman scores 300 in one game and scores Zero in two matches, thus averaging 100 runs per match. Yet the team loses in 2 out of three matches and all the runs scored will surely not have much value.

Persuasive – this is a science as well as an art. When the chips are down, the best of the men falter in persuasion and sustaining the spirit and flame of constructive work. Let me quote from a talk delivered by our present President. This portrays the best picture of how positive people can be? "I was in Tel Aviv once and I was reading the Israeli newspaper. It was the day after a lot of attacks and bombardments and deaths had taken place. The Hamas had struck. But the front page of the newspaper had the picture of a Jewish gentleman who in five years had transformed his desert into an orchid and a granary. It was this inspiring picture that everyone woke up to. The gory details of killings, bombardments, deaths, were inside in the newspaper, buried among other news. In India we only read about death, sickness, terrorism, crime.
Why are we so NEGATIVE?" This is Persuasion. Believe me persuasion begins from persuading one's own Self. As Swami Vivekananda used to say that every communication is 30% words and other external means, while the remaining and vital 70% percent comes from inner feelings, which gets communicated, whether desired or not. If we're not convinced, we'll never mange to get the thought translated onto others. The most beautiful words that illustrate this concept, again, belong to Dr. Kalam, when he says, "I was in Hyderabad giving this lecture, when a 14 year old girl asked me for my autograph. I asked her what her goal in life is. She replied: I want to live in a developed India. For her, you and I will have to build this developed India. You must proclaim. India is not an under-developed nation; it is a highly developed nation." When thought emanates from the innermost core, the intensity with which it emerges makes the thought transform into action and at times take the dimension of a collective passion. That is why I felt that if a person has the above qualities in the correct blend, there is no stopping. Such a person is none short of a social dynamo and benefits the personal and the collective being, hence is always the Most Wanted

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