When I look back at my life, I notice that my major achievements were the result of the push I received from family and friends. Often, I hear people say that they don’t know how they achieved something. It must have been luck, timing, talent or sheer diligence. But, what about people.? The people around us have helped us more than we can ever realize. And, not just friends and family, even strangers have helped me and these are people I may never meet again.
You may wonder why I suddenly started thinking about this. Well, it was because a mentor recently took great pains to help me understand what steps I should take to ensure that I am on my way to achieving what I want to. It occurred to me that I really didn’t know why the person was helping me. And, then it struck me how flawed my own thinking was. Expecting anything in return is pointless, and by wondering why the person was helping me, I realized that the point of selfless help was lost on me. And, that’s not a good thing. So, I turned to my faithful blog to help me grill this truth into my head, about how helping others without expecting anything in return is the only way to really help someone.
I’ve been brought up by my grandparents, and they took extreme pains to ensure that I had the happiest childhood ever. Most of my “good habits” are only because of them. I’m an avid reader today, and that’s only because my grandfather cultivated my habit of reading. Yes, I love reading, but someone had to buy me the books to get me started, and that was my grandfather. When I did well in school, that was the result of countless evenings spent with my grandparents reading out the lessons to me. When I was nervous about reciting a poetry in school, my grandmother would patiently hear me recite it over and over again the night before.
My grandparents wanted to ensure that I pick a hobby that I enjoy. So, they enrolled me in multiple activities, before settling on piano and tennis. Even then, I would be lazy. I remember not wanting to practice the piano a lot of time. I remember my grandfather sitting through my practice sessions, and pointing out my errors even though I would behave like a spoilt brat that I was having my errors pointed out. But, when I passed piano exams and played in concerts, the spotlight was on me. How much of it was really me? I remember when I had to take my final piano exam, and the teacher didn’t want to send me up for it because she thought I wasn’t prepared. I remember my mother going and sticking up for me, and saying that I would be able to do it. Even if I wasn’t well prepared till that point, I ensured that I practiced enough after that to pass that final grade. My uncle has helped me time and again by hearing out my complaints in life and by trying to figure out a better path.
Throughout my life, people have pushed me and “forced” me to achieve more than I thought I was capable of. When I got my first job, I was more than happy to stay there and not think about doing an MBA because I was sure I wouldn’t make it anywhere good. Once again, it my mother who registered me for the entrance exam, and forced me to take the exam even though I felt that I wasn’t prepared at all. When I made it through a good college, the spotlight was on me. Once again, how much of it was really me?
Teachers and mentors have gone out of their way to help me out, and help me reach my goals. Am I in touch with all of them? Unfortunately, not. What about strangers who have helped me out. I don’t even remember all their names. I remember when I was on student exchange in France. I was drastically late for my flight to India, and was in fact sure, I would miss the flight. One person from my hostel helped me with my luggage and dropped me to the station, from where I managed to get to the airport. Had I even spoken to him before that? Hardly.
When I look back there are so many such cases. Without all these people, I would be nowhere. Most of them have helped me knowing there’s no benefit in it for them. But, still people have toiled to help me. When we showcase our resume, it ticks off all our achievements. But, what it doesn’t show is the hard work and role of others involved in our life. Yes, hard work and talent is something we can claim to be our own. But, how much of that would get us anywhere without others in our life. The “role of others” will always be under-appreciated, but must at least be acknowledged. Doing so, teaches us to be humble. It’s not really “I did this” or “I achieved this”, it’s more of “we achieved this”, or “the people around me helped me”.
In our fast-paced world, we sometimes don’t look back in our quest to get ahead. But, we must look back lest we forget the people who helped us get ahead. And, the point of getting ahead is lost if we’re not helping people in our own way. Are we helping our parents when they struggle with things? Are we helping that shy new-joiner in our team? Are we helping friends who may be stuck in a rut? Are we staying in touch with our school-teacher? If we’re not doing anything to help others, we will never really be happy. Where you are today is because of others in your life, and if you don’t pass on the learning to others, there was no point of the journey. It’s easy to be selfish, but ultimately that doesn’t make us happy either. If we are not giving back to the world, then we never should have taken either.