There are those who spend their learning years with full concentration on their books, to the exclusion of everything else.Then there are others who spend their learning years concentrating on everything else, except their books. And then there are others who work out a good balance between work and play (or other interests) and in the process, lay the foundation for a successful future career. All this when they are still in the learning phase of their lives. In doing this, they not only lay a foundation, but also ensure that they do work, which they like to do. A hobby becomes work. And so, they do not work a single day of their lives.
There was Ismail Merchant, who spent a lot of time in running the Sangeet Mandal at St. Xaviers College in Mumbai, when he was studying for the BA course. He was responsible for organising some of the most successful annual shows that the college ever had. He was able to use the ‘help us students’ slogan and get the biggest names in Bollywood and star singers to come and participate. He laid the foundations of his future career in Hollywood, where much later, he carried the banner of Ivory-Merchant productions. Some of these films like Shakespearwala were used as a vehicle to connect the East with the West. Had Ismail not laid that foundation, it is unlikely that he might have made the big leap across the ocean.
There is Leander Paes who spent much of his learning phase, also sweating it out on the tennis courts.Thankfully, he had a very supportive father Vece Paes, who saw the potential in his young son and took loans and finally even gave up his own medical practice to encourage the professional tennis career of Leander.Today, he has become an icon of the tennis circuit – the likes of which India had never seen.
The same can be said of the icon of the cricket circuit – Sachin Tendulkar, who spent much of his time in the learning phase on the cricket field.With the encouragement of his father and the care of his coach, Sachin has gone beyond the records set by the legendary Don Bradman.
The other interests can be many and later achievements may not always be as spectacular as Leander’s or Sachin’s. But they always help to set a foundation and give a direction. It could be joining the Air Wing of the NCC because one is crazy about flying; it could be being on the editorial board of the college magazine; it could be chairing the organising committee of the annual college festival, which will hone one’s leadership skills; it could be the dramatics society, which will later help in life in presentation skills.These provide the ground work for the future.You do not face the future when the future becomes the present.You prepare for the future now.
Walter E Vieira is a senior management consultant