Saturday, September 5, 2015

A to Z Life Lessons in Dr. Kalam's Personality Attributes

Today, 5th of September is fondly celebrated as Teacher's Day in India.

Teacher's day is celebrated in the fond remembrance of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.

But on this Teacher's Day, my mind is pre-occupied with thoughts, remembrance & a sense of loss, for not having our beloved Dr. Kalam, who is rightfully referred as "People's President".

It's been just over a month since 27th July 2015, that Dr. Kalam left for the heavenly abode. The sense of loss, sadness & grief is still fresh & it continues to linger, in the minds of every Indian.

For all of us, Dr. Kalam, was a great teacher, someone who was always accessible to the student community, who reached out....connected....communicated with the young minds & inspired them to follow their dreams.

Dr. Kalam's personality, comprised of so many wonderful attributes & within each one of them lies lessons for life, for us to emulate & to become a better person.

A to Z Life's Lessons in Dr. Kalam's Personality Attributes:

A for Ambition

"We are all born with a divine fire in us. Our efforts should be to give wings to this fire & fill the world with the glow of it's goodness".

Inspite of his very humble background, due to his ambitious nature backed with perseverance & hard work, he rose to the highest level of success in his scientific, academic & political field.

B for Benevolence

"Life is a difficult game. You can win it only by retaining your birthright to be a person".

The beauty of this man, was inspite of reaching the Mount Everest in the landscape of success, at his core, he continued to remain a simple person.

He had spend many years in his life, living in Trivandrum & during those times he had made friendship with a mochi (cobber) & a dhaba (roadside eatery) owner.

Many years later, when he became the President of India & was visiting Kerala at the Kerala Raj Bhawan, in his official list of invitees figured his old time friends: the Mochi & the Dhaba Owner.
Inspite of achieving the heights of success, he retained humility & benevolence, in his consciousness & in his actions.

C for Charisma

"I am not a handsome guy, but I can give my Hand - to - some one who needs help. Beauty is in heart, not in face".

Dr. Kalam, is one of the most charismatic leader, on the world stage in our recent memories. His charismatic approach, would weave a magic & level people spell bound.
In more than six decades of free India's Presidency, none of his predecessors managed to earn love, warmth & affection of ordinary citizen, as much as Dr. Kalam received.
He is rightfully referred as "People's President".

Dr. Kalam's charisma, was felt beyond our borders. In 2012, he visited Peking University during his first visit in China. His lecture at Peking University left the school president so impressed that Kalam was immediately offered a role as a honorary professor to come back. Never one to pass up an opportunity to educate & illuminate the minds of the young - whether they be in India or China, he readily accepted it. He kept his promise & returned after two years, for a series of lectures for the Peking University students.

D for Dynamism

"We will be remembered only if we give to our younger generation a prosperous & safe India, resulting out of economic prosperity coupled with civilizational heritage".

Dr. Kalam, had a very dynamic personality. Inspite of achieving greatness in all his life's spheres, he never rested back with contentment. He kept on setting up new goals & took up new challenges.

In 1999, he planned to have interaction with 100,000 youths. He said, "I intent to share with them experiences, helping them to ignite their imagination, & preparing them for work for a developed India for which the road map is already available".

In 2011, Dr. Kalam launched a programme, "What Can I Give Movement", for motivating youth to work against corruption.

Vision 2020, Books (he wrote more than 34 books), Billion Beats bulletin, Honorary Doctorates (48 universities), Public Speaker, Social Change Agent, Motivator, apart from his career as Scientist, President of India, speaks volumes of his dynamism.

E for Energy

"Those who cannot work with their hearts achieve but a hollow, half-hearted success that breeds bitterness all around".

Boatman, Newspaper Hawker, Scientist, Rocket Engineer, Administrator, Diplomat, Statesman, Motivator, Educationist, Visionary, Teacher, Writer, Poet &! what an energy level.

If we can embody even some % of Dr. Kalam's dynamism & energy, how much more we can achieve in our life.

F for Free Thinking

"My message, especially to young people is to have courage to think differently, courage to invent, to travel the unexplored path, courage to discover the impossible & to conquer the problems & succeed. These are great qualities that they must work towards. This is my message to the young people".

Dr. Kalam, was a free thinker, a rationalist who always challenged the status quo, took the road less traveled & left a mark of his own.
Even in the role of President of India, he followed his own thinking, his own free will & was creative in his conduct & today he is fondly remembered by all the "People's President".

G for Genuineness

"Discover the sense of your own self & build upon it you must be a first grade version of yourself instead of being a second grade version of somebody else".  

Dr. Kalam, was at IIT Varanasi, as the chief guest. On the dais, were placed five chairs & the chair in the center was bigger in dimension than the others.
He refused to sit on the chair, because it symbolized inequality & he made sure the organizers changed the chair & only then he accepted to take seat.

H for Hard Work

"Confidence & Hard Work is the best medicine to kill the disease called failure. It will make you a successful person".

Dr. Kalam, who rose to become an unanimously respected leader of our nation, inspite of all his success he continued to remain as hard working as would be an ordinary person, struggling to make a mark for himself.
He was out there working when he breathed his last. He literally worked till the minute he passed away, while giving a lecture to students of IIM Shillong.
His last wish, apparently, was that the nation not take any day off to mourn him when he passes, but if we love him, we should work an extra day.

Probably, his passion for hard work remains as the most significant life's lesson for us.

I for Imagination

"The world demands the qualities of youth, youth not as defined by a time span of life but defined by a state of mind a temper of will a quality of the imagination a predominance of courage over timidity & an appetite for adventure over a life of ease".

Dr. Kalam, had the gift of imagination (vision). From the humble background to where he reached, would not have been possible without his gift of imagination & vision.
His proposed road map Vision 2020 for India, his message for the youth to imagine, dream a dream are the manifestation of his imaginative side.

J for Joyful

"The two most important life-goals I would like every youth to have: one, increase the amount of time that you have at your disposal, two, increase what you can achieve in the time available".

When Dr. Kalam was with DRDO (Defense Research & Development Organization) & his team was discussing options to secure the perimeter of a building that needed protection, Dr. Kalam reportedly said: "If we do that, birds will not be able perch on the wall".

This may appear as a small incidence, but if we think deeper, we can realise that a man of his caliber, at his heights of responsibilities & in the middle of his life's demands, he could still retain the sense of joyfulness & was able to derive joy, from small things in life. (He was mindful of the birds & the simple pleasures of life).

K for Knowledge

"Educationists should build the capacities of the spirit of inquiry, creativity, entrepreneurial & moral leadership among students & become their role model".

A school girl once asked to Dr. Kalam: "Sir, how can I be the best scientist in the world?"
After a little smile, he replied: "What you did?".
She replied: "I just asked".
"You are a scientist then", Dr Kalam replied. He said,"Keep asking & find answers to all the questions & you'll be successful in achieving your dream of becoming the best scientist".

Dr. Kalam, has always put great emphasis on gaining knowledge, developing critical thinking, applying the knowledge for the better of one's life & the society at large.

L for Leadership

"Let me define a Leader. He must have vision & passion & not be afraid of any problem. Instead, he should know how to defeat it. Most importantly, he must work with integrity".

Soon after it was declared that Dr. Kalam would be the next President, he visited a modest school to deliver a speech. His security detail was minimal, & he didn't mind taking control of the situation when the power was off.
Speaking to around 400 students, Dr. Kalam ensured the power cut didn't cause any interruption. He walked right in the middle of the crowd & asked the students to surround him. He then spoke to 400 students with his bare voice & delivered, like always, an inspiring keynote.

Such incidences, indicates his proactive attitude, his ability to take control of the situation with calmness & common sense. Truly, an amazing Leadership quality in style & in action!

M for Magnanimous

Dr. Kalam says:
"When I was a kid, my Mom cooked food for us.
One night, a burned roti was served to front of my dad.
My dad ate the roti, without any fuss.
I remember, my Mom apologizing to Dad for the burn roti.
And I will never forgot what he said: "Honey, I loved the burned roti.
Later that night, I went to kiss Dad, good night & I asked him if he really liked his burnt roti. He wrapped in me in his arms & said: Your mom puts in a long hard day at work day & she was really tired. And besides, a burnt roti never hurts anyone but harsh words do."

Dr. Kalam, carried forward this lesson from his childhood days, in his life's philosophy & in his actions.
His mantra, became to accept each others fault & choose to celebrate relationships. Life is too short to wake up with regrets. Love the people who treat you right & have compassion for the ones who don't.

N for Non-authoritarian

"It is very easy to defeat someone, But it is very hard to win someone".

Once Dr. Kalam, was the chief guest at an event at IIM-A. Prior to the event, he was lunching with a class of 60 students. At the end of the lunch, the students wanted each a photo with the former President.
Citing the delay, the event organiser tried to hush off the students, but to everyone's surprise Dr. Kalam asked the organiser to calm down & said that he won't leave the premise until every person who wanted a picture with him got a picture!

Dr. Kalam, always carried himself as a people's person & he never surrounded himself with the aura of authority & remained accessible to one & all.

O for Optimism

"When I call upon youth to dream lofty dreams I am invoking a vision in them. As you dream so shall you become"!

Dr. Kalam was a born optimist. He show positivity in failures, hope in struggles, meaning in difficulties & inspired everyone to remain optimistic, against all odds.

His vision for India, his various campaigns, events, programme are fueled with optimism & positivism.

P for Persuasion 

"Life is a complex interplay of various factors & there has to be acceptance of the risks inherent in coping with it & yet keep moving it".

A few marks more in the AFSB post interview & we would have not not had our "missile man".
Dr. Kalam always wanted to be a fighter pilot. He was called for interview by Air Force Academy, Dehradun along with 24 other candidates. He secured 9th rank & got rejected as only 8 slots were available.
That was when he decided to take up the offer to work at the Directorate of Technical Development & Production (DTDP).

Similarly, all through out his life, he faced many challenges & hurdles. But his perseverance, ensured he kept moving on in his life, kept on excelling & reaching the pinnacle of success, through his life's journey.

Q for Quintessence

"For great men, religion is a way of making friends; small people make religion a fighting tool".

Dr Kalam, is a man par-excellence. He is one of his kind, who has left behind a legacy of his own kind, which is probably very hard for others to emulate in days to come.

As a President of India, he never took the salary for his personal usage. He gave up all his life savings & salaries to a trust he founded named PURA (Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas).

President Kalam, is known to write his own thank you cards.

Dr Kalam, was so humble, that after events, he didn't mind staying back so that his fans could take photos & interact with him.

There are many more such stories about Dr. Kalam, which probably will become folklore in days to come. In true sense, he was one of his kind, a Quintessential man!

R for Rationality

"Science is global. Einstein's equation, E=mc2, has to reach everywhere. Science is a beautiful gift to humanity, we should not distort it. Science does not differentiate between multiple races".

Dr. Kalam had a scientific temperament & he believed the way forward for human civilization was to rise above dogmatism & embrace the true spirit of rationalism along with right ethics & values. His entire life has been decided in the service of science & later on in inspiring the youth of this nation to have an independent thinking mind & to take up scientific endeavor.

S for Selflessness

"The sides of the mountain sustain life, not the peak. This is where things grow, experience is gained, & technologies are mastered. The importance of the peak, lies only in the fact that it defines the sides".

The above quote, metaphorically defines the selfless way of Dr. Kalam's life.
Though he reached the pinnacle (peak) of success, he was always concerned about the people & society (sides) around him.
Probably, this is reason, the People's President, refused to stop being an Aam Aadmi (common citizen) throughout his life.

T for Tolerance

"What makes life in Indian organization difficult is the widespread prevalence of this very contemptuous pride. It stops us from listening to our juniors, subordinates & people down the line. You cannot expect a person to deliver results if you humiliate him, nor can you expect him to be creative if you abuse him or despise him. The line between firmness & harshness, between strong leadership & bullying, between discipline & vindictiveness is very fine, but it has to be drawn" - excerpts from Wings of Fire.

U for Uprightness

On the way, to IIM Shillong, this incidence happened.
From Guwahati, the journey to Shillong was 2.5 hours drive. The convoy comprised of 6-7 cars. Dr. Kalam was in the 2nd car. Ahead of him was a gypsy with 3 soldiers in it. Two of them were sitting on the either side & one lean guy was standing on top, holding his gun.
One hour, into the journey, Dr. Kalam saw his still standing & this made him feel uncomfortable. He instructed his fellow assistant to relay on wireless radio, requesting the guard to sit. The message was send through, but as it was a protocol related matter (better visibility for providing security in insurgency areas) it did not work.
Upon reaching IIM Shillong, Dr. Kalam ensured that his inquiry about the security guard whereabouts was conveyed & this particular security personal, was brought in to Dr. Kalam's room to meet him.
Dr. Kalam, greeted him, shook his hands & said to him, "Thank you Buddy!". "Are you tired?, Would like to something to eat?". I am sorry, you had to stand so long because of me".

The young guard, was surprised at the treatment. He lost words, just said, "Sir, aapke liye to 6 ghante bhi khade rahenge".

What an upright personality, Dr. Kalam was. He always upheld his ethics, values systems & good behavior, in every action & deeds, in his life.

V for Vivacious

"Walt Disney character Pinocchio said: When you wish upon a star it does not matter who you are". - excerpts from Reignited: Scientific Pathways to a Better Future.

Dr. Kalam, was full of life. He defined his chronological age, riding high on the backs of his octane energy, enthusiasm & his mission, which remained his driving force.
His energy, his charisma & ability to connect with the youth, made him an extremely lovable & vivacious personality, loved by all.

W for Wit

"When the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free & was never free again."

When reporters, asked Dr. Kalam "90% of India, wanted you to be re-elected as the President of India, for the second term. When you read those reports, newspapers what was your feeling".
Dr. Kalam, very diplomatically mentioned we are democracy, but we have our constitution which is our guiding force".
When he was further probed, "But it shows, the Love, Adulation of the nation for you & you are truly the "People's President". Dr. Kalam, showed amazing display of wits & answered, I will reciprocate & return the love, by meeting & interacting with my countrymen, I will inspire them, I shall help them to find a meaning & purpose in their life".

X for Xavier

"Creativity is the key to success in the future, & primary education is where teachers can bring creativity in children at that level".

The literal meaning of the word Xavier, is someone who lectures people on how to become a better human being.
How apt, this personality attribute is with Dr. Kalam's life. Post his Presidency years, he set out on a mission to connect with the youth of the country, he reached out to the academic & scientific community, he reached out to the policy makers & provided shared his vision, experience, knowledge through his lectures, with the mission of transforming India in the days to come.

Y for Youthful

"My view is that at a younger age your optimism is more & you have more imagination etc. You have less bias".

Dr. Kalam, adored children & youth.
Once he was in Vizag, to inspect the naval base. He had planned to conduct a session with students, post his inspection tour. Around 600 students from more 300+ schools where there, along with their teachers.
After his speech, he invited questions from the students. An over-enthusiastic teacher sprang up & started talking. Dr. Kalam said, "Not now. First the children, that is more important. Then if we have time, we will come to the adults".

It shows, Dr. Kalam, was remained youthful in his heart & mind. He liked to spend most of his time, interacting with the children & youth. He enjoyed the energy of the youth & loved to share his experience & inspire them, for great achievements in their life.

Z for Zeal

"Do not wait for something big to happen start where you are with whatever you have".

When after leaving the President's office, Dr. Kalam didn't opt for a retired life, he was asked on the program (Frankly Speaking - Arnab Goswami), "Why are you pushing yourself so hard?, What drives you?".
Dr. Kalam, replied, "My vision & the vision ignites my mind. My vision, India a prosperous, economically developed, safe & happy nation, drives me".

For most, sitting in President's office is the epitome of achievement in personal & professional life. Post the presidency years, they opt for retirement. But that was not to be the case with Dr. Kalam. His zeal & energy, kept him going on many more missions & he literally worked till his last breath.

Thank You, for being an Inspiring teacher, to a billion people. You will continue to inspire us & remain our guiding star.

With lots of Love, Respect & Admiration,
One of your indebted student forever......