While I have been focused all my life building my career and working towards personal aspirations and goals, I have also realized there is more to offer from me towards the upliftment of others be it materially, socially or academically.
Somehow from my early childhood I have found people coming up to me seeking for my help with their studies, career and life related decisions. With this becoming a normal I soon realized I need to develop myself not only to answer questions related to my aspirations but also be in a position to understand the problems of others and guide them in right direction so that even they achieve their desired destination.
The small stories that I am going to narrate below were done more out of compassion and empathy and not just as an act of kindness.
- At School with Peers: When I was 9 years old, one of my classmates and his mother once came to my home searching for me and my parents. While we were in same class, I wasn’t the closest of his friends. I had in fact not even shared my address, but one fine afternoon I saw both of them at my door. I was trying to recall if I had messed up with this guy anytime previous week. But the visit turned out to be different than expected. His mother explained to my parents that her son was not good at studies and he found that I could be of help. He was struggling with few subjects which I was particularly good at. While I was trying to understand how I could help him, my parents assured to them that from that day onwards, I would be dedicating some part of my time to help him out with his studies. Once they left, my parents asked me to invite him to home every Thursday and explain him how I approach my studies and share with him notes for difficult subjects. My mother was very clear, I need not just give him readymade notes but also develop the approach to studying a particular subject and also build a habit of educational discipline. It soon became a norm, till my 12th grade I hade few more of my friends come up with their parents asking for similar help.
- At university with Close Friends: When people come asking out for help, its not difficult for compassionate minds to actually help hem out. But to evolve as a human being, developing empathy becomes far more important. By doing so you start to understand and feel the pain of others and learn to help them out when they are unable to ask for it. Same was the case with my best friend. We did our engineering together and gelled well as our roll numbers were next to each other and our houses were also nearby. While I was doing ok with my studies, he was struggling big time. I was concentrating in making sure that I do not fall in below average category. It did not strike me until we reached a point where if he had not passed some of the pending subjects in next exam, he would have to drop out for 1 year. Although he did not express for any direct help, I had realized that I had to step in and allot more time to help him out. I soon established a daily rhythm with him. Again, I made sure that I not only help him out with occasional doubts but help him in building a discipline for studying and also sharing an approach to address different types of problems and building rhythm for studying during exams. Slowly over a period of 2 years he started liking studies, he started getting competitive and we reached a point where after our final year exams he got 3 marks more than me and passed out with a distinction. That is something which he still brags about.
- As an adult to Young aspirants: Once I passed out of university and got into my professional life, the relations with peer started to change. But I always had an open outlook to help out students with their studies. Whenever I found out aspiring students who were curious, I would strike out conversation to understand their approach towards studies and see if I could help them out in some manner. Somehow, we tend to attract more what we like or dislike. Every month once or twice I get some or the other call asking me for help either with studies or getting job or about application in certain course in university college.
Since childhood I had realized that there will be people coming around to ask for some kind of help depending on what you are good at. I wouldn’t say I was very good but I had a understanding of what I was into and I made sure I was not just absorbing all my knowledge to myself.
I started to take my counselling (if I may say so) very seriously. Below are the few tips/ rules that I followed for last 2 decades
- Be a good listener: Try to hear out when people approach you for help. Let them completely talk through were they are with their problem.
- Empathize, Empathize, Empathize: In design thinking, which is a process used to develop products worldwide, empathy is a core principal used to understand the customer pain points. Similarly, I have always tried to put myself into the shoes of the people facing issues. That helps me to develop the right perspective and make appropriate suggestion.
- Very rarely, one size fits all: Understanding the challenges on person to person basis is the key in suggesting the right solution. There is no universal answer to people with same problems. I am sometimes bemused when people go on with the same rhetoric when they look at school children. Students struggle at one or the other point in their journey. One needs to understand the core of the problem and suggest a solution accordingly.
- Encourage to Build Discipline: Once I have gone to the core of the problem, I would always emphasize to each and every one the importance of building discipline. No matter how challenging it may sound, the rewards are very beneficial.
- Never Force fit: Some students follow forcefully what their parents ask them to take up or what they see as the trend. Soon they realize that they are not meant to be doing it and they are perhaps good at something else. I have always encouraged people to know themselves, to find their mojo and speak up openly what is it they want to be in life and forget what is currently happening in their careers. Its ok to take a pause and reinvent one’s career, to realign one’s path. You may be late, but it is important that you reach the destination you desired.
- Take every one seriously: Every word that I speak, every suggestion that I give, I give it with complete seriousness and conviction. I treat everyone as my very own, and focus on the problem as if my career is on line.
Somehow consulting people became a norm in my life, more the time passed, more the people started approaching me. I realized while I may have not achieved something phenomenal in my life, I have been instrumental in small successes in life of many people.
I would encourage each one of you to be open to the idea of helping out with whatever you are good at, to give your best to society, to be The Good Bacteria.