Is there any one among you who has never looked at the dark night sky? I hope there is none.
What made you look up? Certainly not the darkness. But the thousand points of light that twinkled and shined. Ins’t it?
Did it not make your heart leap to see those beautiful diamonds out there against the dark velvet black of the night sky? Yes, it did. As a young boy resting his head on his mother’s lap and gazing up at the night sky said, “Mummy, if the underside of heaven is so beautiful, I wonder what the real side would be like!”
But I am certain that it is not just beauty that attracts us to the stars. There is a sense of wonder, amazement, and mystery at these shining pearl drops in the sky. They make us look up. They make us think, “Who created all these?” We wonder at the wisdom of God the Creator and his power beyond imagination that makes the universe so densely punctuated with stars.
Above all, the twinkling stars whisper hope in our hearts. That is what the nursery rhyme, “Twinkle twinkle little star” speaks about. It talks about the bright and tiny spark lighting up the way for the traveller in the dark. In life’s journey as we encounter dark nights and uncertain days ahead, let us hold on to the hope held out by the stars. There is light to shine on our life’s journey.
It is because of this hope that “Twinkle twinkle little star” has always been my favourite nursery rhyme!
“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” — Isaiah 40:25. 26 Bible NIV
“He [God] heals the brokehearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name” — Psalm 147:3, 4 Bible NIV.
Imagine a world without teachers. It will be as if a hundred million lights were switched off all at once.
Windows Opening to the World
Some teachers have inspired us; some others might not have lived up to our expectations. Some have been tolerant of our irksome behaviour; but others have been tough towards us even to the point of physical torture especially in school.
Yet we can never forget the fact that it was teachers who were the windows through which we first saw the world with wide big eyes. It was they who provoked our curiosity and lend us a helping hand to cross the obstacles that often came our way.
Not Just Passing On Knowledge
We hated them for the discipline they enforced on us; but in later years hatred turned to respect and gratitude towards them for being tough on us. It was only in hindsight we understood that they had our good in mind.
So many of our teachers could have found better paying jobs; but they chose to esteem highly and hold dear this noble vocation of moulding a young generation turning them into men and women of excellence and character.
Care and Concern
There were times when we were in personal difficulties. It was at those times we saw a different teacher than the one we saw in our classrooms. They came to us, showed their concern and gave practical help. Thus they gave to us the message that they cared for each one of us as individuals.
Some of our teachers had the gift of being prophetic for they could see beyond the ordinary in us. They predicted with great insight which direction our life’s journey would take in future. I have personally experienced this.
Virtual Classrooms Are No Substitute
In these days of virtual classrooms and technological advancements in education some argue that the traditional role of teachers inside a classroom is being rewritten. How far from the truth it is. No message has the ring of authority or warmth of a personal touch like learning in a face to face encounter with a teacher inside or outside a classroom setting.
John, beloved among the disciples of Jesus Christ and one who was taught by him, in his old age wrote of that experience in these words: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” (1 John 1:1 NIV). These words highlight the importance of truth and wisdom coming to us not as teachings alone but in the form of a person who can be seen and touched.
As we celebrate yet another Teacher’s Day today, let us remember our teachers with a thankful heart. Let us wish each one of them all joy in their sunset years. Above all let us try to live up to our full potential for it was to see us do exceedingly well in life they invested so much of their time and energy on us.
Finally, let us thank our teachers for believing in us when many others tried to wrest our dreams away from us. Let us be grateful that our teachers like lighthouses towering above the storms of life prevented us from crashing on rocky shores by beaming their light in dark and tempestous seas.
In this context the words of Henry Brooks Adams rings out loud and clear: “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” So let us salute our teachers and continue to shine that light they passed on to us!
#1. Winners believe that it is possible to achieve
It goes without saying that all wins happen in our minds before it works out in reality. Winners conquer giants of fear and doubt in their own minds before they enter their playing fields. He who wins the battle in his mind is already a winner. He is not intimidated by opposition however fearful they appear to be.
#2. Winners see possibilities not problems
So many people lose the joy of living just because they talk about problems all the time. They forget the reality that all people have problems. But winners see problems as opportunities to be innovative, creative and tap hidden potential with enthusiasm. This very difference in outlook makes it possible for a winner to conquer seeming problems with ease.
#3. Winners do not quit even when others give up
Every highway and byway of life is littered with the bones of those who started well but gave up somewhere during the journey. This happens because it is easy to give up. But it takes blood, toil, tears, and sweat to make a win possible. It is all about persistence and perseverance. Winners are those who have persevered.
#4. Winners are constant learners
Winners are humble and are willing to learn from others. They do not stop learning. Always observant, they, like a sponge absorb the best from others. It is when people stop learning as soon as they complete their education that they become fossils. A winner is armed with latest information and he therefore is able to make intelligent decisions without loss of valuable time.
#5. Winners rehearse often and practice their art to perfection
Fools are those who think that it is easy to perform. All great performances come attached with a huge price tag. Long hours of preparation and sweat and practice is what makes a winner perform at his very best when the spotlights are focused on him. A winner labours on while others sleep; and while others relax winners push themselves to rehearse yet one more round. The results follow.
#6. Winners do not wilt under the pressure of criticism
There is no winner who has not passed through the fires of criticism. Winners do get hurt by criticism; sometimes more badly than the ordinary person. Often winners too feel like giving up. But the difference is that they choose to react positively and creatively to the pain of criticism. They make criticism levelled at them a real tornado of inspiring force to perform better and prove their critics wrong. Criticism thus becomes the fuel that burns and propels winners forward to great victories.
#7. Winners do not make success a resting place
Winners are those who are always dissatisfied with their best. They are never content in a good sense. Always there is unrest within their hearts. They scan the skies above and always try to soar still higher. Success does not satisfy winners. It only makes them long for more. They do not rest on past victories and laurels.
#8. Winners give their best in all their attempts
There are people who always look for short cuts in life. If people are not watching they do a shoddy work all the time. But winners are unlike them. They give their best at all times. It does not matter whether it is a small opportunity that has come their way; they’ll do it as if it was the greatest privilege they got in life. Giving hundred percent plus every single time is the way winners do it all the time.
#9. Winners comeback from the worst situations and pull a win straight from the jaws of defeat
Testing times prove a man or woman for their mettle. Often they stare at defeat. But winners never give up hope. They know that even when the battle is going against them; at any point they are capable of making a comeback. And they do so too; by calling forth energy and resources we thought impossible from a person exhausted from the fight, we find a rallying cry and a shout of triumph as the winner turns the tables in a flash.
#10. Winners make it possible for others to succeed
There are people who make success an end in itself. They do not see beyond the victories they enjoy in life. But true winners are those who see life in larger and broader perspective. They try to make life easier for others by lending a helping hand. Perhaps the greatest contribution from true winners is that they motivate others to be the best they can be.
“I’ve severe inferiority complex. I would like to talk about it sometime”; so said an IT professional to me over phone a few weeks ago. I suddenly felt the pain with which he spoke.
It also reminded me of many other students I had met in my training sessions; who though putting on a brave and confident face on the outside hid a nagging problem of inferiority on the inside. At some point they too had revealed that their struggle was with inferiority complex more than anything else. Many did confess this with tears in their eyes.
Why is inferiority complex so widespread? Why does it affect people who sport a very confident face otherwise? Is there any solution to this? If so, how can one get out of this as a better person?
Honestly, no easy solutions come to mind. Each individual may have had struggles early in life which are unique to that person. A sympathetic understanding of underlying causes might help to kick-start the journey on the road to recovery and wholeness.
Yet whatever be the cause, the root of inferiority complex is lies and deception. It happens when we believe wrong and unjust estimates about ourselves. Others might pressurize us to believe these lies or we might just be deceived to believe them on our own. If you can learn to unmask these lies and deception; then you stand a greater chance to get out of inferiority complex. Indeed, it is the truth that will set you free.
#1. Know that you as a person has value in God’s eyes.
No matter how unjust the comparisons that are made about you; and how unfair that criticism that is made against you, God loves you and values you as a unique individual. You are not someone lost in the crowd; but you’re someone with great worth in God’s eyes. The Lord says: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Do you believe this? It is the first step on the road to recovery.
#2. Know that the glamorous and the glossy that is presented as good and perfect in the media and advertisements are mostly grossly inflated presentations.
The real world is more about failures, disappointments and despair along with occasional triumphs in the daily grind of life and dull routine. So do not measure your worth against unreal values the marketing world attractively and temptingly presents.
#3. Know that in spite of everything you can think of negatively about yourselves, there is one thing that is good about you.
Your challenge is to find that one thing and be very good at it. Make it a great strength of yours. Let it become your passport to greatness. Though weakness is common to all; it is your duty to work hard and excel in one thing you are good at. When you excel in that one thing the root of inferiority complex can be cut down.
#4. Know that the past with all its pains, hurts, failures and heartbreaks have to be forgotten.
So many people find themselves struggling with guilt and fear because they had been victimized in the past. Such experiences do take time to heal. But your cooperation is a must. You need to decide to get up from where you’re lying down. Do not be comfortable with your pain. Shut the door behind to such memories and get on with life.
#5. Know that you can learn to see the negative circumstances in your life differently.
See bad circumstances in life as the training ground where your character is made strong through the fires of difficulty. Also be thankful for the difficulties in life. The thankful attitude, if practiced constantly will give you joy and enable you to defy the downward pull of inferiority complex and rise above negative circumstances.
#6. Know that labels need not be allowed to stick permanently on you.
Once a doctor told me “My two children are introverts.” I was shocked. Because her children who had attended my training sessions had done so well in class; especially team events. So I asked her why she held the belief that her children are introverts? She told me that their school teacher had told her so. How sad that this mother so thoughtlessly parroted this in front of others in the hearing of her children. I was compelled to tell her that the teacher’s role and duty was not to label her children negatively but to help them come out of their shells. However, I told her, I was happy that her children did not believe what she or their teacher had told. So you need to recognize that negative labels don’t define you. Instead you have the power and the ability to tear off these negative labels. Why not do it now?
#7. Know that you can make a difference.
There are many people who need you. Often it is the sense of uselessness that creates inferiority complex. Get involved in building up the lives of others; especially those who have not many to encourage them to succeed. The knowledge that you put a smile on someone’s face by a kind word, gesture or deed; the realization that your help gave someone the courage to live another day; is a great healer.
The power of new beginnings is immense.It is like the burst of light that pierces the darkness and makes everything visible. Long years of patient waiting then gives way to the rise of dawn–of new hope, greater glory, immeasurable joy, and ultimate triumph.
The price one has to pay for such a rising is huge: Long years of being in the shadows; the scorching walk through the furnace of unjust criticism; the bitter gall of rejection by those who share not your vision; and the mockery of those whose concerns do not rise above gossip are, to name just a few, what is included in the price tag.
The response to such a high calling is generally one of shrinking back. The opposing forces seem so formidable. Yet these are the very things that chisels off the rough edges in us and shapes us into something enduring and of infinite worth. Only with such intense preparedness we are made ready for the opportunity that lies ahead.
When that opportunity comes; will it find you prepared? Or are you so much drained by those wasted years when all that you attempted met with only a small measure of success? Has the fire in you stopped burning or are there still a few embers left that can be fanned into a blazing flame one more time? This is the moment. Now is the time. Do not hesitate; do not hold back. But step out though it be into the unknown. You’ll find the path already cleared for you.
Who is equal to such a task? The man, who, in spite of all stones thrown at him survives; and with bloodied face but with undaunted spirit still rises from the sandy arena and fights yet another bout. He, who, even when he knows his strength is drained, is yet able to make one final attempt from resources hidden but kept in reserve; ready to meet this hour’s crisis. He, who with face like flint is resolute in his purpose and is solely concerned with finishing strong though the ordeal has taxed him to the very depths of his being; yes, he is the one who triumphs and is a more than conqueror.
Only such a man is equal to such a task. And I hope that man or woman is You!
Therefore, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.” The doors that were kept closed were simply checks along the way that you might not lose yourself in mediocrity. Do not lament over what might have been! Leave such sentiments to the faint-hearted. But you, forget the past. Be brave; be strong! For out of gloom and despair the light will surely shine. As the Most High God had declared:
“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
This New Year, may God do a new thing in your life. Let this day find it being initiated. He will definitely complete the good work begun in you; and will bring to pass the plans He has for your life even as you trust in Him!
Stories have got great power in communication. Primarily we need to understand that a well-told story is a complete piece of communication. It has a definite beginning. Are we not familiar with the well-loved phrase, “Once upon a time”? And stories do have a definite end. Again, we remember how we loved those fairy tales which ended, “And they lived happily ever after.”
Most stories arouse our curiosity. It gives our imagination a good exercise. Thus we become active participants in the action when we listen to a story. This power to engage the listener is so vital to communication. That is why a story succeeds in capturing attention where other speech techniques probably fail.
Therefore it is important for a speaker to try to communicate using stories. Yet many hesitate to open up before a group especially when it comes to sharing a personal story. The reason is not far to find. Sharing a personal story makes a speaker feel vulnerable. Many speakers confuse this as weakness. It is not. The truth points the other way. When a speaker shares a story from his life, the audience sees beyond a speaker’s credentials. They see a human being on stage with flesh and blood like all the others; with no other claim to greatness than the fact that he or she too is a participant in life’s rise and fall.
Rarely does a story fail to illuminate if told well. But the mastery of story-telling is a little bit difficult to attain. Yet the truth is that we were all master story-tellers as children. Somehow we lost that capability in the process of growing up. Is it because we lose the innocence of childhood as we grow up? Is it that we lose our sense of wonder? Or is it that we forget somehow the art of asking insistent questions to know more? Perhaps all of these. But the sad result is the lost art of story-telling. Becoming like a little child on stage is the key to holding audiences spellbound while communicating, especially through stories.
It is also important to understand that great stories do revolve around themes that lie close to life: Fight between good and evil; competing for love; principles of honour, loyalty and sacrifice; war and hate; heroes and villains; journeys and dead-ends; explorations and conquest; myths and legends; light and darkness; crime and punishment, law and justice, death and beyond; pain and suffering; joy and fear; success and failure; birth and new beginnings. This list is by no means exhaustive. Yet anything from personal life that touches one of these chords will not fail to captivate the audience if told well.
Yet another great theme is the theme of change!
The theme of change is what makes the story of the younger son (prodigal son) a timeless classic. Told by Jesus (recorded in Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 15), it talks about the transformation that happens in the life of a son who was wasting his life in riotous living in a far country when he comes to think of the unconditional love and acceptance offered by his father at home. The moment of realization of this truth makes him begin his journey home. Of course, it is a parable of God’s love towards a sinner who genuinely and sincerely wants to come back to the welcome of God’s home.
Good stories will always fascinate and provoke thought. It will touch our emotions. Beyond that stories help us to understand our lives too as a story whose script is being written even as life goes on! Jesus Christ of Nazareth!
A couple of days ago I got a first-hand glimpse of teamwork. My wife and I decided to take a walk at Shangumugham beach in the morning. It was around 8 O’clock. At that time of the day we almost had the entire beach to ourselves.
We walked the shore for a long distance in the wet sand often glancing behind to see our footprints being left in the sand. At one point my wife asked me, “See if there are footprints of the Unseen One along with ours!” But then ahead of us we had already seen a group of fishermen hauling in the nets after a hard night’s toil. We went to watch.
There were two sets of fishermen standing in line. They were holding on to two ends of the fishing net. With great effort they were hauling the net in. Two men were out in the sea guiding the net even as they kept swimming. Though the tide seemed low, the waves were crashing in. And soon it started raining. But my wife and I stood watching the fishing process with great fascination. It was the first time we were seeing it live. We found that our umbrellas were no protection against the slanting rain. And it was cold.
Yet the men toiled on; unmindful of the weather. I admired their sense of unity and purpose and how focused they were on their work. Dark and cloudy skies, crashing waves, heavy rains and biting cold—circumstances that look not promising to an average onlooker did not seem to even bother them the least. And finally they brought in their catch. Small and big fishes were there. They struggled to hold on to their freedom and life one last time. But the game was over. They were soon transferred to the waiting baskets of fisherwomen.
Two thoughts crossed my mind. One, how much we fail to appreciate these group of men who risk their lives each day at sea to earn their bread! With what unfeeling hearts we often bargain with these women who bring these fishes to our doorstep!
The second thought was about Anchovies (netholi in Malayalam) that were caught in the nets along with other fish. I wondered what these small fishes thought about their lives in this big ocean. Sometimes our smallness in this big world bothers us a little bit; doesn’t it?
As the umbrellas offered little protection from the rain, we tried to find shelter underneath the roof a small house nearby. From there we watched a group of fishermen trying to wash their nets. It was a fascinating sight. All of them together carried the bundled up net down to the sea. They were singing and chanting “oh, hoi” encouraging each other and creating a jubilant mood. Perhaps their hearts were content and thankful because of the catch of fish they got and for the safe return of those who had gone out to the sea. Well, in that heavy rain, drenched to the core, they cast the bundled net into the sea. As the waves washed it, they straightened out that net into one long stretch.
As we watched, what happened next fascinated us very much. One fisherman lifted up the straightened out net at one end and drew it towards himself from the sea. After the net had come up two or three feet, another man stepped forward and took hold of the net ahead of the first man.
Then the process repeated. Young and old stepped forward in almost rhythmically timed fashion, one at a time, until the entire net was carried by them in a single file. The wonder was that there was no one to instruct. It all happened with great precision. It was one example of brilliant teamwork.
What I thought was that they knew and understood their roles well. Without jealousy, without any thoughts that one was better than the other, with a great sense of purpose and unity, they toiled.
We left the shore with the thought that the morning was well-spent. It was a joy to learn some life lessons first-hand. I also thought once again about that bit of sidelight information that I had read many times before: Jesus called some of His first disciples “as they were casting a net into the lake” or some others who were “in a boat, preparing their nets.” Did something of the teamwork of those “unschooled, ordinary men” attract Jesus’ attention to them that made Him make them part of His team? I wonder.
Like the sea our lives are a big canvas. Nothing great can be painted there without such teamwork as these fishermen exhibit. Unflagging enthusiasm, unlimited patience, endurance and hope, the joy of celebration; all mark the lives of these men. They rise together as a team. This is their glory even as they wait for each new dawn.
____________________________________________________________________________ Shangumugham beach is located in Thiruvananthapuram and is very near Kovalam beach, Kerala, India. Jesus Christ of Nazareth!