who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
- Eleanor Roosevelt
Bhavin has just become a Commerce graduate and is busy preparing for his CAT exam. (The entrance test for IIMs). A while ago, he called up. “Sir, I am a fresh Commerce graduate and I am preparing for CAT,” he said, “But, I have a terrible stage-fear. The thought of standing before an audience cripples me with anxiety and whenever I attempt to speak, I go blank!”
As this was my own problem when I was Bhavin’s age, and, as I knew what it did to my own self-confidence, and, above all, as I knew how I went about overcoming my problem, I spent the next ten minutes trying to calm down a bit of Bhavin’s anxiety about stage fear. I encouraged him to join our upcoming 10-sessions programme, which he was very keen to do. I also asked him to pick some of our motivational books. “Bhavin, You do not have to wait for the course to start,” I explained to him, “You start right away doing whatever you can to overcome your problem.”
“But, sir, will my stage-fear completely go after I do these ten sessions?” Bhavin asked quite sincerely.
I did not answer. Instead, I took another ten minutes to tell Bhavin my own story. “Bhavin, what you need to focus on is your dream – what you want to do in life… When dream comes, stage fear takes a back-seat. So, don’t focus too much on how to do away your stage fear. That’s a small thing – trust me, very, very small thing…”
“No sir, No,” Bhavin interrupted, “It’s a big thing…very, very big thing!”
I paused before I said this, “Bhavin, don’t look at the shadow, it will scare you. Let the light come, the shadow will go on its own. You don’t have to do anything… Find your dream, find your purpose.”
I doubt if Bhavin could grasp the meaning of the philosophical statement I made over the phone. He is expected to meet me in the afternoon, today. All that I am going to tell him, all over again, is what I have been telling for years to all young ones…
“If you have a story and dying to tell it,
If you have a cause and willing to fight for it,
Nobody needs to teach you how to speak in public…
You will sit down for hours and prepare it well,
you will stand up for hours and practice it well…
and you will go up ‘there’ and deliver it well…
That’s all there is to it…
to the art and science of Public Speaking…
PREPARE IT... PRACTICE IT... DELIVER IT.”
The day I woke up to my dream – to become a teacher and writer like my idol Prof. B.S. Raman… that was some forty years ago, when I was in my F.Y. B.Com – I also woke up to two of my biggest handicaps – my inability to speak in English (I was a vernacular medium student) and my killing stage-fear. So, on the one side, I dreamt and, on the other side, I dreaded. But, because my dream was more intense and powerful than my fear, I found the necessary determination, patience and perseverance to overcome my handicaps… In fact, to turn them into my greatest blessings in life!
I have told this story countless times to countless number of young ones. When Bhavin comes, this afternoon, I am going to tell him this story, all over again… Whether he wants to listen to it or not… For, if my story is fake, I will only be taking him on a wild-goose chase… He will find nothing.
In Life, all that is needed is to find one’s dream, a purpose. The means will follow... The path will unfold on its own. When Gandhi said this, he said it to all of us… to you, Bhavin and me.
Pic.: Arundhati Sen