Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Can a student learn from listening to the interviews of successful achievers?

I had gone to attend a Ved program this Sunday at Nashik. It is a program where Dr Anand Nadkarni interviews professionals who have achieved something significant in their lives.

This time six successful achievers were invited : Pradeep Lokhande of Rural Relations who has used his MBA knowledge and experience to bridge the gap between rural and corporate world, Mukta Avchat-Puntambekar of Muktangan which helps alcholics to get rid of it, Abhishek Sen, a MBBS doctor who has done two years course in Bio-medical science to invent a product of testing haemoglobin of a person without pricking a needle, Vinaya Janjale who managed to convert her love of animals into a vocation, Sunil Khandbahale who converted his intense painful experience of not knowing English into making a web dictionary of 12 languages, Rohan Shetty who is doing oceanography in UK after getting 35 marks in chemistry in his HSC.

Are these interviews helpful for aspiring students ?

The interviews offered window into the lives of normal people who had achieved something unique and significant. The interviews also must have 'triggered' lot of positive energy for the student audience who would have gone home with a 'can-do' view of life, which is necessary to achieve something in one's life. But is this enough? 

If you consider the effort of igniting this energy for conducting this 1-day program of meeting successful professionals, one wonders if this huge effort is worth. The effort of bringing six individuals from around the country, efforts of municipal corporation and other individuals to inform about the program to the thousands of families in Nashik, efforts of about 100 odd volunteers to manage the day's program was indeed laudable and commendable. But, in the end, does this program help the students?

These definitely boost the morale of the six 'speakers' who spoke about their achievements. They also make the organisers feel 'good' about the efforts they put in to gather such a huge attendance of students. But, if the objective is to make difference in life of students, is this objective achieved? 

Getting inspired is a good feeling but is not enough to generate action beyond a week. Because without channelising the generated energy of students, the ignited spark generated by external motivation soon dies away. Huge population of students , at the end of program, feel 'good and positive' for a day or week, but do not know 'what to do next' after a week to direct their efforts. Without internal motivation, the students cannot use the 'positive feelings' generated by the kick of 'external motivation'.

However, some critics argue that students get plenty of useful tips from these interviews of celebrities. Is this true?. 

What tips of career advice do the students get from such interviews? 

For instance, in the above program, i could summarise about five tips that were shared by the achievers: 1> If you work hard, you will succeed someday 2> If you keep on trying again and again despite failing, you will succeed 3> Doing what your heart says is more important to succeed than doing what others tell you 4>  Spiritual foundation is important for achievement and 5> Parental support is essential for achievement.

Now are these generalised tips useful to students to guide their career? These are motherhood statements which have always remained true. They are always right. We have heard about them umpteen number of times in books and newspapers. Infact, for any student, none of the tip would have been a surprise. But despite knowing these tips, most of the students cannot apply them in their lives.

When are these tips useful for student?

So the real question that we should ask to ourself  should be : why can successful achievers 'apply' these generic tips in life, while most of the other students 'cannot'? Do these successful achievers have some 'special ingredient' in them that helps them apply these tips? And you will find the answer.

You will find that achievers have a map and compass set in their lives: a map to tackle the expected hurdles to reach the destination, and compass to negotiate the unexpected surprises ( bottlenecks and opportunities) inherent in anyone's life.

So which students benefit ? If their map matches with the maps of the celebrities, then the tips of interviewed celebrities are useful. For instance, if a student has a map of becoming a entrepreneur, listening to the interview of Pradeep Lokhande who is an entrepreneur will help the student. Or if the student has a plan of using his 'love of animals' to find his work-path, he would have benefited from the tips of Vinaya Janjale. These tips are useful only for those students whose 'planned work-path' is matching with the map of the interviewed celebrities.

But if the student's chosen map is not matching with the work-path or domain of the interviewed celebrities, then does the generic career tips help the student? In this case, the tips are useful only if the 'right questions' are asked to the interviewer.

The questions in the interview should be asked, for instance, on the subject of 'compass values'. For instance, how did the celebrities worked 'hard' on subjects they did not like? Did they specifically pursue the value of 'mastery' or was it because they found a 'good teacher' for that subject? How did the celebrities chase his/her dream? Was it because of the value that 'Process is important than Result' ? Or was it because of some other reason?


In short, the tips of success offered by celebrities are useful only for few students who have similar map. Or they are useful only when 'right questions' are asked to them. If the questions are wrong, and the maps are not similar, the student does not benefit from listening to the interviews of successful professionals.  

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