How's my Luck now?

Reflections, views and descriptions during my stay at IIM Lucknow from July 2004 to March 2006

Location: India

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Manfest - II

Stage play

Last year's stage play based on Vijay Tendulkar's 'Shaantataa, Court chalu aahe' was memorable. This year's play, again directed by Ms. Neelam Gupta of the NSD, and enacted by IIML students, was based on a comedy by the great French satirist Moliere. Its title in Hindi was 'Bichhchhoo'. Unfortunately, I could only watch the final 20 minutes of the play because of the (fruitless) time spent on the second round of the Business Quiz. So it's not quite right for me to pass judgment on the whole play, but somehow, I did not find it quite that good this year. As the director said after the play, comedy is not easy even for professional actors, and these amateurs were overacting, it seemed to me. This is not to say that they did not put in effort. The story too, did not seem to carry much import or make any biting comments on society, something that makes satire so insightful and enjoyable.

Sporting lessons

It was a pleasure and an honour to listen to two of India's best sportsmen in their respective fields - Geet Sethi and Lt. Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. Incidentally, both their sports (billiards and shooting) involve the crucial faculty of mental concentration, and they both dwelled on similar themes of achieving success or excelling through emphasis on concentration and on the process of performing. What they said applied more or less to most non-sporting careers as well.

Geet Sethi emphasised the point that your lifestyle determines your ability to concentrate, giving the example of the lifestyles of himself and of Prakash Padukone when in their prime. To him, excellence in an area of interest, or a job well done, was 'success', and to achieve it, one might have to go to the extremes of austere lifestyle. Concentration, consistency, and co-operation or humility, were the three virtues of the sportsperson (and indeed apply to other fields of endeavour). He also dwelled on what he called the 'sweet spot' - something which gives immense satisfaction when achieved. The frequency of hitting the 'sweet spots' increased with one's ability to become more single-minded. He reserved a few chosen words for the mobile phone, which he believed was a curse to mental concentration. He also touched upon stress, whose cause he defined simply as the tendency of the mind to wander into the past or the future instead of carrying out the present task as well as one could. Setting tight deadlines led to increased stress primarily because the mind would then tend to have one eye constantly on the future, decreasing the total concentration over the task at hand. He spoke forcefully and put across his point quite well.

Lt. Col. Rathore too, dwelt on success as being a very personal thing. Pursuing success as defined by others or by society, would not be much different from chasing a mirage. Single-minded effort on the present task was again emphasised. He said he had an 'I CAN' (Improvement which is Constant And Never-ending) philosophy. He derived his inspiration from certain individuals as well as through books. The important point he put forth, and which I liked, was that of a personal value system and the importance of means. As much as ends are important, means are equally so, and so personal ethics were all-important.


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