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I was happily employed in a premier media company for a fairly long period of time before I decided to get out of my comfort zone. It has been nearly three years now that I have been living my dream – three years of long and hard struggle. Excruciating. Exhilarating. Enlightening. But each day has been highly instructive. What follows here are just a few of the things that I have learnt. I hope they will help you in some small way.
Don’t wait for something to be perfect before attempting it
Perfection is a never-ending process. But for it to take place, you are required to make a beginning at the very least. Don’t wait for the time when it – whatever “it” is – is just right. It will never be. So many of my students had told me that they wished to take the PTE/IELTS exam when they were fully ready for it. Actually it’s the other way round: you commit yourself to a specific date and then work towards achieving excellence in the period that you are left with.
Never stop learning
Keep aside one hour every day for research. We need to learn something new every single day. This may be something work-related – most of us are already doing it – or something completely esoteric. When Elsa – his cousin whom he finally married in 1919 – once asked him why he (then a student) was reading a book on geology when it was not being taught at school, the young Einstein had replied that it was because he liked to. “Isn’t it enough (reason)?” Good question. So read and learn whatever takes your fancy. While music might be the food of Love, for the Mind it has always been books. Read. Read. Read. That’s the way forward.
Know your competitor/s
When you chase excellence in your chosen field, there is only one competitor who matters: you yourself. Frankly, neither do I know much about my competitors nor do I worry myself sick over what they are doing. I follow what one great man once said:
The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time
– Henry Ford
Oh yeah. Do just that. Always ask yourself how can I achieve customer delight? how can I add real value to my service? How can I maintain quality every single time? And how can I constantly raise the bar and strive to achieve it? Be sincere in your effort. Know your customer and try to do everything possible for him. This way lies excellence. And there is no shortcut to it. Clever sales gimmicks will surely fetch you short-term gains (often at the cost of your image). Long term, what matters is sincerity.
Excellence is monotonous
Absolutely. Consistency is the name of the game. Don’t be blinded by the many ways to success. Figure out what is working for your business. And then stick to it. Don’t try to “fix” it. Vision and mission are glamorous terms. Talking about a venture enthuses everyone. But no one likes to be told that, come rain or shine, it is doing the right thing “over and over again” that fetches results. The same principle applies to your preparation for IELTS/PTE/TOEFL: study a little but every day. All my successful students have followed this technique. They have studied a little but regularly.
Nature and Nurture
Believe in your dream. Live your dream as if you have already achieved it. Rest assured that no matter how difficult it may get at times, you will finally reach your goal provided you have unshakeable faith in it. Failure must be treated as an opportunity for self-introspection. Learn from it and then go and do it again.
But at the same time, be prepared to work hard and for long. Nurture your vision every day, in every little way possible. Be creative and innovative about it. And gradually your dream will take shape and gain in strength.
Always strive to grow
In business, as in life, thinking that you have “reached”, is a strong indicator of the beginning of your downfall. You either grow or shrink. Equilibrium is a momentary state of rest. Not to “rest” on your laurels; but to catch your breath before attempting to climb the next peak. It is an endless journey characterised by an indomitable spirit to “strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield” (Ulysses, Lord Tennyson)
Enough for today!