As the cover photo says it all, the post is about the fabled former Indian President, Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. However, before I get on to talking about how he re-wrote one of my greatest theories of life, I would like to talk about something else.
Ever heard of Pareto’s Principle? It’s also referred to as the 80/20 Rule. The principle states that in any system or organization, 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people, 20% of the work is accomplished by the rest of 80% of people.
I could not agree any lesser. I have organized several events in my College where I was at the helm of the proceedings. And, when I look back my memory lane, I can see that most of the work was always accomplished by a handful of us, while the others only facilitated the movements and performed minimal work.
The principle made me realize that in a team only the 20 percentage of people did something of great importance. Ergo, these mattered more than the leftover 80 percentage. That notion remained embedded into my head hitherto I read a book by Dr Kalam- “Governance for growth in India”.
What the fabled Dr Kalam wrote in the book changed my theory about team building and working in synergy with others forever. He did so by talking about an analogy of a tree and its seeds in his book. He said-
A tree’s true strength is the sum of its own strength and the strength of all its seeds. The strength of all the seeds is accountable. Each and every one. When all of the seeds of the tree fall on the ground, a handful grow into newer trees and plants.
However, the left over seeds lay there unfertilized. However, this doesn’t mean that these leftover seeds are useless or unwanted. They still perform a very crucial job that makes those handful of other seeds to grow into strong and leafy trees.
How? Those leftover seeds would soon be acted upon by microorganisms. With due course of time, those microorganisms would break down the seeds into nutrient and mineral rich sources for the newer plants to bloom and grow.
That’s how these leftover seeds play a small but highly imperative role in the growth of other seeds into green and burgeoning trees. I was amazed to see how Dr Kalam turned such a trivial observation into a beautiful life lesson.
With this theory, Dr. Kalam decimated the theory which had been embedded deep into my head for long now, The Pareto theory. Dr Kalam’s analogy made me realize that Pareto theory belittled and demeaned the 80% of the team while emphasizing the role of the other 20%.
Here is what I learnt-
Without the 20% work accomplished by the 80% of the team, the other 80% of work could never have been realized in the first place. In fact, that 80% figure of the work achieved would have been much lesser a percentage if that 20% work had been compromised by the belittled 80% of the team!
Dr Kalam made me understand how each and every entity of a team is equally important. No one is superior or more important than the other. Take the example of the office of a huge company. Say, the so-called 20% are seated in the conference room making the major policy decisions for an impending product launch.
However, if the peon who carries the orders from desk to desk and employee to employee decided to pass on the message after a small nap time, the employees would not be informed of the critical changes in plan well in time. Ergo, the big goals for the 80% of work aimed to be achieved by the top 20% would never really actualize!
That is a lesson introduced to me by Dr Kalam which changed my outlook of life forever.
The man is known to the world for being a visionary. He is embraced by the Indian citizenry as the Missile Man of India. He is also the far-sighted architect of India’s space programs. Some call him the best President that this nation ever got. Well, Dr Kalam deserved every bit of those plaudits.
He imbued not just one or two but endless lives. And, he continues to do so as his ideas and vision remains amaranthine and fresh. This great soul was known for his humility and eleemosynary works. The man gave his all to the betterment of the society and was revered by the youth. Many in young generations venerated the benign soul by regarding him as a role model of theirs and called him Kalam Chacha.
While researching for this post, I learnt that people describe and profess their love for Dr Kalam in sundry ways – Some call him The People’s President while others embrace him as a Karm Yogi. A few even bestowed upon him the tags of being a “Science Communicator, a true Bharat Ratna and so on”. Kalam was all of this and much more.
I can go on this way extolling the altruist and ingenious former President of India, Dr Kalam. However, the truth remains that I never knew even a tad bit about him until I read his book. Okay, that’s a lie. I did remember his full name, Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam from the General Knowledge textbook from school days.
But, other than that I had no clue about his great life, path-breaking ideas and heartwarming thoughts. And, I feel so hapless that I only took to reading his book after he had already left for his heavenly abode. Had he been around, maybe I would still have had a shot of meeting him someday, I guess. But, that would remain an unfulfilled wish.
Sometimes, I envy the prolific Quora based writer, Balaji Viswanathan for he got to meet this great man thrice!
Anyways, I read the book and I got to learn about the man who gave his nation and fellow brothers and sisters so much to cherish about. Then I went on to read another book by Dr Kalam. And, as I had expected, I was amazed by his creativity and masterful ideas with which he made me realize the immense possibilities strewn all around me and how we are all destined to achieve greatness, given we strive for it.
Albeit, this man didn’t mean much to me when he was alive. But, today he does. I take his name with great regard and love. Watching his erudite speeches on YouTube makes me feel enriched and blissful. His polite voice and puckish sense of humour makes me feel enchanted and chortle at times. And, with this post, I finally pay my tribute to that glistening visionary.
People often ask what is the meaning of striving to achieve so much in life if we are to die one day? Dr Kalam’s mega-living is an answer to that. In the physical sense, the man died long before I fell in love with his greatness. But, he remains alive and revered in the hearts of endless lives like mine. And, with that I come to the point, what is the purpose of life as taught by Dr Kalam-
Make your life so big that even death can’t take it all away with it- Megaliving!
I hope the reader found their time well-invested by reading the Part-1 of four part Mini Reading Series (MRS)- “The Four Who Changed My Theories of Life.”
Updated on 25th Feb 2017: Part 2/4 of MRS released! : The Man Who Was Dead For Six Minutes!