For me, school was traumatic experience. I could not relate to class work. School demanded quick answers, quick solutions and instant recall of facts. Fear of failure to answer correctly paralyzed my ability to respond. In stark contrast sports allowed me to focus on temperance, patience, industry and simplicity. It didn’t matter if shah Jahan was a poet, administrator, warrior or scholar. What mattered was physical challenges, friendship, and security. Sports offer all that, and still does.
Move Your Own Mountain?
When I meet young people I tell them not to focus too much on academics, especially grades. We have to encouraged graduates who have been unable (and more important, unwilling) to move any mountain. In fact, they have not made any perceptible difference in the world in which they live. So much for good grades. It’s all very well to be articulate, write well, be witty and charming and in general posses a great personality. But the stuff that moves mountains is sharing, caring, perseverance, integrity and generosity.
Value Character and Ethics
Today’s society places too much emphasis on personality and not enough on character. We value people who look good, speak well are go-getters. Those with compassion, love and commitment meanwhile, are considered non-starters. For too long the go-getters have had a free go at getting and have got nowhere. History is replete with such disasters. The BCCI fiasco stares us in the face. Somewhere along the line in our development we have crossed over from being value-centered to bring self-centered, from being austere to being over-indulgent. Instead of savoring what we squander our time living out pointless fantasies prepackaged at school with no consideration for our role in society. In the US and Europe people are already coming to grips with the problems of lack of character. Business schools are teaching courses in ethics.
In Pakistan , the media is filled with horror stories about the lack of scruples prevailing with in the Pakistani masses and leadership. It’s been too long a good bye to the days when mothers would pack their boys off to the boy scout troops to learn first-hand about leadership, hardship team work and appreciation for the environment. Now, its fashion togs, shopping at Agha’s and discussing impending exams or buying guns. Imagine a whole being run by people who can add columns, compute ratios, and do creative forecasting but are unable to resolve conflict at home and in their neighborhood. These are the same people who had been under duress to achieve high grads and excel in exams. In the process they have developed callousness and lost leadership skills.
The simplest form of leadership to motivate people to perform to their maximum to their maximum effectiveness in order to achieve the objectives they have set forth. Leaders today stand for competing incessantly with others, neglects those who empowered them, and preserving power with no regard to long term effects on society.
The Word Competition
Now competing has come to mean a conflict of interest, which is not what the Greeks meant when they invented the word competition they meant to strive with, and not against, others. It was not winner-take-all. The so called loser counted. He made the difference by pushing the winner to win. Without a looser there cannot be a winner. That is contribution, the essence of competition. As a sportsman who has lost on numerous occasions, I feel the victory for me was in participating.
The skills developed in sports are becoming more useful in leading a full and balanced life. Forget the courses in Business ethics and let’s looks inward and compete with our own best efforts. Let’s leave admissions to leading schools up to the administrators and move on with developing our next generation with solid values and with a vision for the twenty-first century.