Friday, June 23, 2017


“The best things in life are often waiting for you
at the exit ramp of your comfort zone.”
- -Karen Salmansohn 

Some days ago, while teaching my twelfth-standard students, I said, “The best way you can find your self-motivation to study well and score well is by discovering what you want to do in life… In your case, what to do after twelfth.” I continued, “When your vision is clear, you will find the path… No one needs to show you that and no one needs to keep coaxing you to work hard and work long.”

My frustration with my students has always come from this: Most of them are not clear about their vision and goals…

In such situation, how can outsiders like me – teachers and coaches – motivate them to succeed?

So, the other day, when I asked my students, one by one, if they knew what they wanted to do after twelfth, Vijalaxmi said confidently, “Sir, I want to do Law.”

“Very nice beta,” I sincerely complimented. I continued, “Normally, such a desire comes in us by admiring someone in our family or neighbourhood… Has anyone inspired you?”

“Yes sir, my uncle,” Vijayalaxmi said, “He is a High Court advocate.”

“Can you tell me a few things absolutely essential to become a good advocate?” I prodded the young girl.

Vijayalaxmi hadn’t applied her mind to that question at all!

“I suggest, sometimes, you attend your uncles’ office or accompany him to the High court,” I advised Vijayalaxmi, “Watch him working in his office and performing in the court. You also watch how the best advocates argue and how judges go about their work. Moreover, you observe how young, smart girls go about their profession under their seniors.”

Vijayalaxmi was attentively listening to what I was saying.

Then, I came to an important point. Some months ago, her mother had enrolled Vijayalaxmi for our summer P.D Programme. Even though the full fees was paid, Vijayalaxmi did not attend more than two sessions. She dreaded speaking in public and hence avoided stage like plague… Her mother and I tried our level best to persuade Vijayalaxmi… but, she was not at all ready to face her fear. Finally, we decided to let go… “Her time will come, ma’am,” I consoled Vijayalaxmi’s mother, “When she finds her vision, she will find her path, too.”

This time around, when I helped Vijayalaxmi see the direct link between her ambition and her ability to speak well in public, she was ready… There was less – almost zero – resistance… How could she become a good advocate without the ability to speak well in public? How could she become what she wanted to without the ability to write (draft) well? Yes, subject knowledge and aptitude were essential, but, not without the ability to speak well and write well…

I was watching this young speaker, Yubing Zhang, on TED Talks, last night. The theme of her talk was:  ‘Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone’. She shares with her audience her own stories – how she learnt to overcome her fears by stepping out of her own comfort zones… from bungee jumping from the tallest tower in the world to saying ‘I love you’ to her own parents… “It is not as scary as it looks,” she keeps reminding…

For Vijayalaxmi, my student, the ‘edge’ may be that little push to go up on stage to speak… For you and me, it may be something else… But, yes, not until we step out of our own comfort zones… not until we face our own fears… that Life really begins!


Pic.: Tandra Chakraborty
Video: YouTube

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