“Why you have come all over from America to serve the country?” someone asked. “So that you can ask me this question” Anand Shah answered and this is how our last lecture in the training institute on a rainy Saturday morning began. It was the last time 144 of us were together after the valuable bonding of 5 weeks. Something powerful could only hold our attention as we long for celebrations (read as nostalagia) of our last day. And Anand’s mesmerizing talk immersed us completely for next 120 minutes.
Anand Shah told us his story. He was born and educated in US and has come back now to contribute in establishing a Higher Education Institute in India. Read more about Anand here
It is usually funny to tell I am here to serve my country. Nobody talks like that! Why?
Anand Shah threw a question in IIM-Ahmedabad once “Why were IIM, IIT established?”. The answer is “The founders of our Nation knew that we need world-class engineers and managers to build the nation. So, the idea was to create a force which SERVES THE NATION. He asked the IIM crowd again “Do you know how many people paid for you to come here? Many people, for whose villages had to be built, paid by establishing these institutes by sacrificing what they deserved. So I ask you would you like to volunteer for one year of your life to serve your country and contribute in building it because that is what the purpose of the institute you are in. Don’t you think you should pay-off?” No hand rose.
Even at Teach for India we don’t hear these kind of answers a lot. People are hesitant to say “I am here to serve my Nation”.
Why serving the nation is such a hard idea after all?
Our Second mental stimulant : The world is so fast that there is no point having an urge to go behind where everyone is going
“Why people go to IIT-IIM or Why over 6-7 lakh people compete for IIT-JEE and CAT every year?”
“Why someone who joined Lehman Brothers in 2005 got assured that his life is set and later found himself in the crisis in 2008”
Following the herd might be the right thing to do or say it better safe thing to do. To compete and reach to be in top 1% brings out the aspirations. People want to be more than what they are and they just go through the usual psychology of following the herd and work hard to be at the top of that.
Going against the herd might not be the smart thing to do always. But going with the herd has one serious disadvantage:
Our Third Mental Stimulant : Herd follows consumption.
Successful moments are those in which you are a producer. The blunt truth of following the herd is that you are consuming opportunities that others are producing. But when you are a producer you create a value nobody else is even thinking about.
“Why if there is a tree in a middle of road, you have to drive around it?”
The tree makes it presence feel.
Mahatma Gandhi might be an old school of thought but he stood like that tree. Steve Jobs might be a modern school of thought and he creates a value no one else was even thinking about. They stood for what they believe in These people are producers.
Who remembers who was Vice-President of Golman Sachs in Mumbai three years ago or the Head of Maruti Suzuki ten years ago. But people will remember Gandhi and Steve Jobs.
When you have a handful oh wheat grains in your hand, you have two options – send them to mill and once they are grinded you cannot tell what’s what or re-grow them and you will find a new value created if nurtured properly.
The fourth mental stimulant : The litmus test
Every morning when you wake up and look in the mirror, can you say “I am doing the right job.” Will we, the trained teachers, after 60 days be able to say that? Will I be able to know always in middle of my class “Why am I doing what I am doing?’
Will I always have a moment of being a producer for next two years for 40 students I teach? There are very big questions that we will be confused about in next two years.
For 144 of us, the moment of reckoning has come.