Thursday, December 22, 2011

Find the Purpose

A real action packed year. Completing ten projects on the basic manual of communication within one year period.Completing eight projects in a span of just eight months. Hopefully by the end of today’s programme I will be provisionally certified as a confident and competent communicator. Real good job but where do I go from here with that certificate?

Toastmaster of the evening, Mr President, fellow members and guests please accept my warm wishes for a very happy and prosperous new year and good wishes for this evening. Good evening.

Life is a never ending learning process and toastmasters is a learning organization. Here we learn by doing, by getting evaluated by others and by getting hands on experience. But for what we undertake this pain and pressure?  Without doubt it is a real educational exercise, but what we are going to do with the education?  All along we have been listening from our toastmasters’ friends on external success and let me today try to do an inward journey.

We are one of the few fortunate people who try to learn continuously. But what is the purpose of education – is it to answer the questions asked or question the answers given?

Is education is just transfer of information to our brains from others?   If mere transfer of information is the purpose of education, then computer servers with good net connectivity should be more intelligent than all of us put together.  Because we do depend upon Google for almost all our queries.

So the purpose of education cannot be just accumulation of information, because in today’s world we have it in plenty. What we do with that available information, which one to use and which is not relevant, which is not workable and useless – all we need to know that. The knowledge of separating wheat from chaff should be the purpose of education. Having a lot of information and not knowing how to use this information is of no use.  So the purpose of education is knowledge – the knowledge to know what it right and what is not.

Then we have the second question, what is the purpose of knowledge?  Knowledge is just a form of potential energy that shows that one has the capacity to do things. But how?   Potential energy has to be converted into kinetic energy, as the proof of putting is in eating. Having just a capacity is no wayuseful; we need to have the willingness to act upon. So the purpose of knowledge is not the capacity to act, but the real action.

When comes to the question of actions, we have multiple choices. Which road that we can travel ahead? We have seen the American government pumping in a lot of tax payer’s money to bail out banks and insurance companies of US and the top management shared that money as their golden parachute and simply moved out.  On a monthly basis we are seeing the increase of white collar crimes which have been done by highly educated people. What is the use of such knowledge? The purpose of knowledge has to character building.
So the purpose of education is knowledge and purpose of knowledge is action and that too action for betterment.  Then we need to find out betterment of whom? So where the action based on character building does plays a role in our life as an individual?

Friends, let me take the privilege of introducing a person called Bunker Roy. He was born in the state of West Bengal and his father was a mechanical engineer and his mother retired as India’s trade commissioner to Russia. He had his education in the Doon school and had his masters in English literature from the prestigious St Stephen’s College Delhi. His parents want him to try and get into Indian Administrative Services, but he decided to go against their wishes. He started the barefoot movement and barefoot college and using the traditional knowledge and made more than three million people from the underprivileged sections of the society job worthy.

I don’t preach something which is very hard to practice, I know for certain it is very difficult to leave our most comfortable situations and stress ourselves in the remotest corners of the world serving others, if we do not have that inner voice of our conscious. I am not suggesting that all we need to do is to resign our jobs and start public service.

But, we need to understand the gap between haves and have-nots is getting enlarged day by day. We all know that change is the only constant thing in this world. But change that originates from the top to bottom is reform and that the same change if start from bottom that goes to the top has a different name. We could not have forgotten what has happened in this part of the world for the last one year – the Arab Spring. Friends, change that start at the bottom is called revolution. If we are not a part of the reforms, we will become a part of revolution. Choice is absolutely ours.

We all have been blessed by Gods, we were able to get a good and proper education, by which we have improved and increased our knowledge and with that we were able to get a good jobs. UAE had faced the worst recession and still undergoing it for the last three years. The simple fact that we are all able to retain our jobs, some of us still able to get better jobs shows that without doubt, we are all very competent leaders and competent communicators.

What we are going to do with this kind of talents, do we just want to earn a good living, increase our bank balances, invest on property and leave it to our children and disappear from this world. Don’t we have a duty towards the society to be fulfilled?

It is not that we do a charity by helping the underprivileged sections of the society. For me it is not a favor we do, but a duty which we all need to fulfill. We have a duty to hand over this beautiful planet earth in a slightly better position to our younger generation than how it was when we arrived here. We need to make a difference and it is a tryst with our destiny. We need to redeem our pledge.

It is only through education, that poverty can be eliminated. Mankind has not found a better weapon so far to fight poverty. Let me tell you what we, a group of our friends doing in this regard. We have been educated in a government aided school where many of us had our education from class 6 to + 2 – a whole seven long years. And this year our alma matter is celebrating its one hundred and twenty fifth anniversary. As many of you might know governments are moving out of providing quality education to the masses and leaving the private players to handle it. We decided to swim against the tide. During a casual chat with many of my friends and classmates we thought of helping the institution financially. But when we checked up the infrastructure is in place but the morale of the students is very low. They come from such a poor background that even their parents are not concerned about their education. Now on a regular basis, some of us whenever we find time or whenever we go to our native place make it a point to go to the school and interact with the students. We are informing them about the opportunities available, try to find out their problems and guide and help them to realize their potential. A major role has been played by our friends who are still in the same town or in my homeland.

What has started as a small movement of around 30 of us, now really grown big. In our group now we have more than 700 old students. We even have people who are in their seventies. At least someone visits the school every week which has really making a change, albeit in a small way. We know that the task is huge, but we are confident that we can do it and realize our dreams. This is our way of saying thanks to our beloved school which has thought us how to face the challenges of the world.

Toastmasters, we seldom have money problem, many times we have only an idea problem. Just think and check you will find your purpose, the thing that is closer to your heart and start doing it. As communicators and leaders we need to put our expertise for the benefit of the people around us.

Greatness is not when we talk big things, but when we understand small things. However small your noble deeds are, don’t mind, and start doing it. Shall we take this as our new year resolutions? Shall we act up on this?

Over to you toastmaster! 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Get, Set and Go


How many of us were able to study the course of our choice in the institute of our preference? How many of us were able to get the job of our liking and were able to marry the sweet heart of ourdream?

Toastmaster of the day, President, fellow members and welcome guests a warm good evening to you all.

How many times in our life do we face such situations, not able to get what we aspirefor and still have to digest what we end up getting. Have we not faced this situation in our life often?Not getting the promotions we think we are worth for, not getting the increment and incentives we feel we are fit for and on a personal note not getting a vacation which is due for? How do we handle this kind of situations, what lessons we can learn from them?

The first and the foremost lesson we need to understand is these are all only temporary setbacks and not final failures. Life goes on and on and on, we also have totravel with the tides of times not getting struck by the smaller turbulences of life. Whatever seems to be biggest problem today looks totally insignificant in the course of time.  In life everything happens for a reason, probably for a much better reason which we are not in a position to understand in such critical times.

The second lesson we need to know is setbacks are a natural part of life; everyone has their own share of setbacks.I do not believe in giving examples from mythology and history but I would like to take the example of a person who lives among us. AmithabBatchan – the uncrowned monarch of Indian cinema. From such a height he fell down because of his commercial ventures – AmithabBactchan Corporation Ltd. He conducted the Miss World contest in India, invested heavily in film and other entertainment industries, which he supposed to have known as the back of his hand. He sustained huge loss and even his house in Malabar Hills, the costliest place in Mumbai was attached by the bankers for not paying the dues in time. Papers started writing the obituary of the emperor. But he did not accept his setbacks as final, be bounced back with the great game show KBC, started endorsing products and he is the living example of a person with unlimited positive attitude. Look around all great people irrespective of age and races, we end up seeing such strong people who swim against the tide and come out victorious.

Please note, I am not using the word failure, but consciously using the word setback because failure is never final till the time we decide to give one more try. It is not the question how many times we have fell down, but the matter is whether we were able to get up just one more time than the number of times we have fell down.
We all know that for all actions there is an equal and opposite reaction. But all actions can give only two reactions – either results as we aspire for or experience. It is never a negative result we get, but only a result for which we are not prepared for or not ready to accept as it is.

Good X Bad, Tall X Short, Beauty X Ugly, Intelligent X Dull, Honest X corrupt – life is full of duality, is it so? We all think that if we throw a stone on a mango tree, either we get a mango or the stone fell down – isn’t it? But trick of nature is it is never binary, but has a lot of surprise options in between. We think either it is black or white – that is our understanding. Because we have been trained to think in that way only, but lives comes always with a shade of grey.

Take example of throwing the stone in the mango tree. What may be the possible results –
We may get a mango as we aspire for, or we may get a bunch of mangoes which is a jackpot, or the stone will fall down without giving any results, or still can hit our own head, creating a problem or still hit the neighbor’s window glass or an another person’s head which is a disaster. Technically all this can happen – do you agree with me or not?

Every problem has a limited life span – look back at your own lives, have we not come across the problem. We are not stuck, live moves on and on and on. Keep moving. Staying static is a sin, like the world we need to be dynamic and keep moving ahead.

Every problem holds a positive possibility, only we need to have that kind of vision to see the hidden message. When everything seems to be lost, remember future that too a bright future remains.
Every problem will change us in numerous ways, only we need to be ready to come out of our comfort zone and ready to pay the price for change.   Keep on renewing yourself.
R        Review your past
E         Examine all the possibilities
N        Name the price you are willing to pay
E         Elect the best possibility no matter what the price
W        Work and wait

Friends, never surrender, never give up open up and see the world as it is and not as we like to see. I truly believe that all roads are paved with gold, only we need to find it and take our share of it.

Over to you toastmaster of the day.