To those of us who are battling the fence.
Life is fickle and so it is funny. A small provocation can ruin an otherwise perfect day. The tiniest of happy moments can show us that elusive silver lining and capsize a dismal day. Part and parcel you’d say. But then there are those pressing issues which hover over us for a multitude of days, weeks, months, years. These build up to certain key moments; times when we find ourselves at a crossroads, when we have to take a decision; make choices that seem impossible to make: what will make you happier – this or that, what do you really want – one or two; face instances wherein choice ceases to be a boon but becomes the enemy. The crossroad I found myself at, a couple of months ago was not an unfamiliar one. I had been there before. But only now do I wish all of us find it, and find it soon.
I talk of the day I finally said to myself – this is it Bharat, you are going to teach for India. Not to call arriving at said decision excruciating would be a downright lie. The actual fellowship we’ll get to in a minute, but the decision in itself was amazingly tumultuous. It was going to alter my life, whichever way I looked at it, whether I accepted it or not. Today I am one of 450 odd fellows who have been trained at TFI Institute by some of the most inspiring people I have ever come across. Needless to say I have taken the plunge.
Was it hard? Yes.
Was it challenging? Most definitely.
Did it break me? A lot of the times.
If given a choice would I do it again? Without the shadow of a doubt.
Even before I applied I used to wonder what the fellowship was really about. Was it like a cult? A thought experiment that’s come to fruition? An indoctrination scheme? The only ray of hope? I remember discussing this time and again with my co-fellows, who were/are still sailing in the same boat. I mean we’re teaching for India, isn’t this just about the kids and their futures; how does it involve leadership? Wait is it like an MBA? Are they equipping us with tools to run massive corporations? What is leadership again?
Institute is now over and I don’t think we’ve managed to convince ourselves of any specific answers. No light bulbs or epiphanies, just more food for thought! Who am I to empower unprivileged kids? Who gave me the right to teach/influence impressionable minds? Why is power, almost always, construed negatively?
I guess this why I fell in love with TFI; I wasn’t forced to find all the answers, but I was challenged to ask the right questions. For sometimes there are no ‘right’ answers; one size doesn’t fit all, but that in no way means we stop asking questions. This has been my biggest ‘reflection’.
Of course there were some other takeaways: I learnt that pushing yourself can bring you unfathomable joy and a feeling of conquest. I learnt that making mistakes is just as important as striving for excellence. I learnt that being open and accepting can open doors you never imagined existed. I learnt that never being satisfied is not such a bad thing. I learnt that I alone can’t solve all the problems of this world, but collaboration will help ease my burden. I learnt that anyone can be a leader, all he/she needs is a vision, conviction and hard work, for what constitutes as leadership, like everything else, is constantly evolving. I haven’t even started teaching my class yet, I truly wonder what all I could/would learn in the next two years.
Most importantly I learnt that I am not alone.
I started this journey wanting to make a difference, leave a mark on this world if you may. Yes, I have made a huge difference; I walk away from institute having made the biggest difference not to the world just yet, but most veritably to myself. That is another incredible aspect of this organisation, critical thinking is first applied to the self and then to the universe.
I came into this dazed, unsure and pessimistic. I walk on a little more assured.
So could there be light at the end of this tunnel?
I think Jim Rohn’s quote would sum this up quite eloquently: “It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off.”