“A man is great by deeds, not by birth.”
This is a famous quote from a great scientist and thinker, Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam who served our country as the 11th president from 2002 to 2007. He was the source of inspiration for millions of people for his dedication and hard work. He is admired by the people not for his role in the development of defense technologies, but for his unparalleled personality. There are numerous lessons we can learn from the life of Dr. Kalam. Here are some of the teachings we should learn from him.
Dr. Kalam initially wanted to a pilot but he missed being one with the tiniest margin as he bagged the ninth position when only eight slots were available in the IAF. He ended up joining Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and never looked back.
Life doesn’t come with a manual book and hence always doesn’t follow the path we have set for. Often, it takes its own course and makes us follow it instead. And when the tragedy strikes, you may also call it an emergency, you should be prepared. If ‘Plan A’ doesn’t work switch to ‘Plan B’ which was the second best-suited course of action for that particular situation.
Leaders Acknowledge Contribution
When India launched the Rohini satellite into the orbit, Prof. Satish Dhawan was the Chairman of the Indian Space and Research Organization and Dr. Kalam was then a scientist and the Project Director for the launch, Despite their best efforts in terms of research and technical expertise, the whole system instead of going into the orbit, plunged into the Bay of Bengal. A press conference was scheduled after this disastrous launch where Prof. Dhawan took the entire blame for the failure of the rocket on him and assured the press there that within a year his team would definitely succeed. The following year, as SLV-3 successfully went into the orbit, Prof. Dhawan called the Project Director, Dr. Kalam and asked him to conduct the press conference that day.
In an era where taking credit to forge ahead and playing blame-game are unsaid norms of any organization, conferring the credit and shouldering the blame for the failure is what sets a leader apart from the others. Dr. Kalam never failed to acknowledge the exemplary leadership skills which Prof. Dhawan showed by receding into the shadows and allowing his protégé to take the center-stage.
Health is Wealth
At the age of over 80, when most of us would suffer from the purposelessness and isolation and want to resign from the life, he launched a mission for the youth of the nation, called as the What Can I Give Movement. The aim of this mission was to defeat the devil of corruption.
He used to write poetry in Tamil and English; play veena and continued doing what he had set forth after his Presidential tenure– teaching young minds of the nation. He always shared his experiences with the youth and helped them in igniting their imagination and prepares them to work for a developed India. He exemplified what others aspired for and looked at the youth with a hope for the future.
Successful people often understand the importance of a healthy mind and a healthy body. They know that these two are strongly connected and imperative for their smooth functioning. They often follow a strict regime which includes adherence to meal timings, the right portion of the meal, a holistic exercise plan which keeps on changing with one’s age and a mind full of positivity. It is believed that the first three have a direct relationship with the fourth.
Have A Vision
Dr. Kalam had envisioned an India during the year 2020 and also written about it in his book Vision 2020. Here is the distinctive profile of the nation from his book.
- A Nation where the rural and urban divide has reduced to a thin line.
- A Nation where there is an equitable distribution and adequate access to energy and quality water.
- A Nation where agriculture, industry and service sector work together in symphony.
- A Nation where education with value system is not denied to any meritorious candidates because of societal or economic discrimination.
- A Nation, which is the best destination for the most talented scholars, scientists, and investors.
- A Nation where the best health care is available to all.
- A Nation where the governance is responsive, transparent and corruption free.
- A Nation where poverty has been totally eradicated, illiteracy removed and crimes against women and children are absent and none in the society feels alienated.
- A Nation that is prosperous, healthy, secure, devoid of terrorism, peaceful and happy and continues with a sustainable growth path.
- A Nation that is one of the best places to live in and is proud of its leadership.
The most potent factor which drives our civilization is our ability to envision the future. The true meaning of life is having a vision, nurturing it, waiting for it to under fruition and finally reaping the fruits. The spirit inside us collapses not when we are deprived of food rather when we are denied of a dream. The autopilot mode only works well in case of aircraft, in case of humans, it turns fatal. The elderly refrain that there is nothing left for them now and all their ‘responsibilities are over’ and the youthful lament of ‘getting bored’ doesn’t go well with the demands of the nation as we still have to travel a long way before 2020.
Humility Is Key
Dr. Kalam was invited as a chief guest for a function at IIT (BHU) where he refused to sit on the President’s chair which was specially offered to him. The chair was slightly big in size and was to placed give him a special honour. Out of the five chairs placed on the dais, the one on which Dr. Kalam was supposed to sit was placed in the centre. When Dr. Kalam was told to sit on the big chair while the other top officials of the university were supposed to sit beside him, he took notice of the situation and humbly offered his chair to a university official instead.
Ideally, this should have been on the top of the list because all fail if this doesn’t fall in place. Parents have taught us to be humble and the value education classes in the school aimed to instill this virtue in our personalities. All the success earned in life turns into vain if it is laced with vanity. Modesty is and shall always remain the most alluring trait because when egoism falters, humility conquers.
Connect With People
During his presidential tenure, Dr. Kalam always made it a point to meet as many young people as possible. At the end of the tenure, he had met almost a record-breaking half a million young minds. This is why, when he left the office in 2007, he was conferred the loving title of “Kalam Chacha.” He was so popular among the kids that he used to receive hundreds of emails every day with stories of young people who were inspired by his encouragement to “dream, dream, and dream!” He replied to all those emails in person.
In today’s mad race for success, we often embrace numbers and distance ourselves from people. If this is not deliberate and unintentional, the realization of the same comes as shock to even oneself. We as a species are a social animal and hence we should make every possible effort to know about our neighbors and keep in touch with our family. Healthy interpersonal relations contribute greatly to our longevity and happiness. Recent research proves that the people who are more “connected”, be it with Supreme Being, other people or even pets, tends to be more cheerful and enjoy a better quality of life. So next time you go out to buy the vegetables, address the vendor by his name and see the delight on his face.