20 year of being part of the fabled Indian education system had unfortunately failed to prepare me for some of the toughest challenges of my life when I stepped out of the protective cocoon of being a student to the life of a professional.
Right from my first interview to the first few years of employment in the cut throat environment corporate life I was left with wondering whether I was a failure or whether the system that was meant to get me prepared had failed me!
This post is meant not to demean the education system in India which we are or have been a part of and to which we owe a lot of our success, but is meant to highlight the deficiencies in it.
So that we are able to make necessary changes to ensure our next generations are better prepared to meet headlong the many challenges in life that they would face.
Chapter 1 will talk about Communication and articulation skills and the time value of life.
1. Communication and articulation skills :
Churchill’s rousing speech in the midst of WW2 or Nehru’s “tryst with destiny” helped captivate the imagination of millions of people and gave them hope in the midst of war and anarchy.
Lincolns Gettysburg address transformed a nation and put it on the path to greatness.
In 1962 Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw or Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw as we popularly known him, one of India’s greatest sons stated in the midst of the Chinese aggression
- Gentlemen, I have arrived and there will be no withdrawal without written orders and those orders will never be issued.
The speeches made by some of the greatest men to have walked our planet have encapsulated generations, motivated common citizens to give their best for their country or have given hope to millions where none existed. Whether its Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” which transgressed the language barrier or Martin Luther Kings “ I have a dream” to bring about “true” democracy in the US , the power of articulating one’s thought and giving it words to be communicated has shaped the destiny of civilizations from time memorial.
Communication and articulation skills should be taught compulsory right from high school. In today’s world communication skills are not merely add no’s to our professional qualifications but critical requirements to grow in life, not just in our jobs or business. A person who fails to articulate his point of view or his thoughts or communicate clearly what he requires other to do is doomed for failure.
However, it is clearly important to differentiate mere construction of sentences in the Queen’s English language from the clear articulation of one’s point of view.
If you are able to convey the message in our own way crisply and to the point it will be more efficient than merely rambling for a few hours in extremely good English (or any other language) which apart from boring the recipient will most likely ensure that the objective of the communication is never attained.
Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw’ s comment as highlighted above was crisp and to the point. It ensured that people guarding our borders fought literary to the last man and to the last bullet, to safeguard the honour and dignity of our country.
I owe a lot to my school but I wished that sometimes in the 12 years that I had spent in my school at least one teacher would have stood up and read some of the speeches made by Swami Vivekananda or Abraham Lincoln, or even quotes from Mark Twain. Till today I cannot recollect if I have heard Nehruji’s historic speech made at the eve of our first Independence Day in school or college, which itself is an aberration.
These speeches highlight the importance of communication. Mere words can transform a nation let alone an organisation or team.
Communicate what is necessary, be crisp and follow KISS – Keep it short and simple.
2. Value of Time
HG Wells classic the Time Machine, one of the most outstanding pieces of literature narrates the story of an English inventor who invents a time machine to take him back and forth in time.
Sadly to date for me the Time Machine is still in the realm of fiction!
The analogy is to stress the importance of time, one cannot defy laws of physics till date to move back and forth in time undoing and doing his past or future.
Time once lost cannot ever be recouped. The hours wasted on the smart phone, watching the IPL matches, talking garbage on the phone with people who really do not care about you is time which will never come back.
While in school we have learnt the age old adage “Time and Tide stands for none”.
However, the true meaning of the phrase was never taught to us. It took my school friend to scold me one day and say “why do you watch those cricket matches, will Sachin Tendulkar pay for your college education or future living?” That advice given by a fellow school friend who went on to be an IIM and Insead graduate still reverberates in my mind.
Spend time on things and people that you value and are important to you in your life, don’t fritter away the precious seconds of your life on stuff that does not matter.
Remember; money, you can make and loose it and make it up again (easier to make up lost money when you are younger) but time once lost can never be recouped again.
Don’t fall for those commodities comedians who appear on television or social media to sell themselves whether it be cricket players, actors or master chefs! They are doing it to get rich and wealthy and not because they love or care for you or they want to change the world.
If you want to relieve stress then read a book, take up a different hobby or do gardening.
Professionally, avoid long meetings which ramble along without any objective, instead focus your time and energy on stuff that matter and can make a difference.
Elon Musk, innovator, space enthusiast and visionary has this one important piece of advice on business meetings
“Excessive meetings are the blight of big companies and almost always get worse over time. Please get [out] of all large meetings, unless you’re certain they are providing value to the whole audience, in which case keep them very short.”
Why has our education system failed to teach us to value time? Not once in my 20+ years in the hallowed campuses of India’s best educational institutions have I ever been taught the importance of time and its true value.
In Chapter 2 I will blog about Financial Freedom and Planning.