The funny thing about life is that you realise the value of something only when it begins to leave you. As my hair turned from black to salt and pepper and finally salt without the pepper, I have begun to realise the importance of youth. At the same time, I have begun to truly appreciate some of the lessons I have learnt along the way.
The first lesson I have learnt is that, we must always begin with our strengths. From the earliest years of our schooling, everyone focuses on what is wrong with us. There is an imaginary story of a rabbit. The rabbit was enrolled in a rabbit school. Like all rabbits, it could hop very well but could not swim. At the end of the year, the rabbit got high marks in hopping but failed in swimming.
The parents were concerned. They said: "Forget about hopping. You are anyway good at it. Concentrate on swimming." They sent the rabbit for tuitions in swimming. And guess what happened? The rabbit forgot how to hop! As for swimming, have you ever seen a rabbit swim?
While it is important for us to know what we are not good at, we must also cherish what is good in us. That is because it is only our strengths that can give us the energy to correct our weaknesses.
The second lesson I have learnt is that a rupee earned is of far more value than five found. My friend was sharing with me the story of his eight year-old niece. She would always complain about the breakfast. The cook tried everything possible, but the child remained unhappy. Finally, my friend took the child to a supper market and brought one of those ready-to-cook packets. She had to cut the packet and pour water in the dish. After that, it took two minutes in the microwave to be ready. The child found the food to be delicious! The difference was that she had cooked it!
In my own life, I have found that nothing gives us as much satisfaction as earning our rewards. What is gifted or inherited follows the rule ‘Come easy, go easy'. I guess we only know the value of what we have if we have struggled to earn it.
The third lesson I have learnt is no one hits a hundred every time. Life has many challenges. You win some and lose some.
You must enjoy winning. But do not let it go to the head. The moment it does, you are already on your way to failure. And if you do encounter failure along the way, treat it as an equally natural phenomenon. Don't beat yourself for it or anyone else for that matter! Accept it, look at your own share in the problem, learn from it and move on.
The important thing is , when you lose, do not lose the lesson. The fourth lesson I have learnt is the importance of humility.
Sometimes, when you get so much in life, you really start wondering whether you deserve all of it. This brings me to the value of gratitude. We have so much to be grateful for.
Our parents, our teachers and our seniors have done so much for us, that we can never repay them. Many people focus on the shortcomings, because obviously no one can be perfect. But it is important to first acknowledge what we have received.Nothing in life is permanent but when a relationship ends, rather than becoming bitter, we must learn to savour the memory of the good things while they lasted.
The fifth lesson I learnt is that we must always strive for excellence. One way of achieving excellence is by looking at those better than ourselves.
Keep learning what they do differently. Emulate it. But excellence cannot be imposed from outside. We must feel the need from within.
It must become an obsession. It must involve not only our mind but also our heart and soul. Excellence is not an act but a habit.
I remember the inspiring lines of a poem which says, that you reach must always exceeds your grasp. That is heaven on earth. Ultimately, your only competition is with yourself.
The sixth lesson I have learnt is never to give up in the face of adversity. It comes on you suddenly without warning. One can either succumb to self-pity, wring one's hands in despair or decide to deal with the situation with courage and dignity. Always keep in mind that it is only the test of fire that makes fine steel.
A friend of mine shared this incident with me. His eight-year old daughter was struggling away at a jigsaw puzzle. She kept at it for hours but could not succeed.
Finally, it went beyond her bedtime. My friend told her: "Look, why don't you just give up? I don't think you will complete it tonight. Look at it another day."
The girl looked up. There was a strange look in her eyes. "But, dad, why should I give up? All the pieces are there! I have just got to put them together!".
If we preserve long enough, we can put any problem in it's perspective.
Excepts from a speech by Mr Azim Premji Chairman & CEO of Wipro.