May 2019

The only way to start a good work is to START. Leave all anxieties about it to Him. His grace will shine out on our work and it will grow and expand. – Chinmaya

Many, fearing failure, never begin.

There is a famous saying: “Don’t be afraid your life will end; be afraid that it will never begin!”

Everywhere in life, the sequence is the same:

1. Make a start, 2. Make mistakes, 3. Learn from the mistakes, and 4. Evolve.

But what about criticisms?

Aristotle says, “There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing!”

Soon after getting freedom from British rule in 1947, the de-facto Prime minister of India, Jawahar Lal Nehru called a meeting of senior Army Officers to select the first General of the Indian army.

Nehru proposed, “I think we should appoint a British officer as a General of the Indian Army, as we don’t have enough experience to lead the same.”

Having learned under the British, only to serve and rarely to lead, all the civilians and men in uniform present nodded their heads in agreement.

However, one senior officer, Nathu Singh Rathore, asked for permission to speak.

Nehru was a bit taken aback by the independent streak of the officer, though, he asked him to speak freely.

Rathore said, “You see, sir, we don’t have enough experience to lead a nation too, so shouldn’t we appoint a British person as the first Prime Minister of India?”

You could hear a pin drop.

After a pregnant pause, Nehru asked Rathore, “Are you ready to be the first General of The Indian Army?”

Rathore declined the offer saying “Sir, we have a very talented army officer, my senior, Lt. Gen. Cariappa, who is the most deserving among us.”

Thus Gen. Cariappa became the first General and Rathore the first ever Lt. General of the Indian Army.

The successful people reach the top not because they are free of limitations, but because they act in spite of their limitations.

It is well said, “Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible!”

A young man in his thirties used to stand on the footpath opposite the famous Tata Cancer Hospital at Mumbai and stare at the crowd in front – fear plainly written upon the faces of the patients standing at death’s door; their  relatives with equally grim faces running around.

These sights disturbed him greatly. Most of the patients were poor people from distant towns. They had no idea whom to meet, or what to do. They had no money for medicines, not even food.

The young man, heavily depressed, would return home. “Something should be done for these people”, he would think. He was haunted by the thought day and night.

At last, he found a way.

He rented out his own hotel that was doing good business and raised some money. From these funds, he started a charitable activity right opposite Tata Cancer Hospital, on the pavement next to Kondaji Building.

The activity consisted of providing free meals for cancer patients and their relatives. Many people in the vicinity approved of this activity. Beginning with fifty, the number of beneficiaries soon rose to a hundred, two hundred, three hundred. As the numbers of patients increased, so did the number of helping hands.

As years rolled by, the activity continued; undeterred by the change of seasons, come winter, summer or even the dreaded monsoon of Mumbai.

Mr Harakhchand Sawla, for that was the name of the pioneer, did not stop here. He started supplying free medicines for the needy. In fact, he started a medicine bank, enlisting voluntary services of three doctors and three pharmacists. A toy bank was opened for kids suffering from cancer. The “Jeevan Jyot” trust founded by Mr Sawla now runs more than 60 humanitarian projects.

Sawla, now 59 years old, works with the same vigour, feeding free lunches to 10 to 12 lakh cancer patients and their relatives.

Let us not worry about the failures. But let us worry about the chances we miss when we don’t even try. We will never know our potentials until we start.

 A businessman was deep in debt and just couldn’t see a way out. His creditors were closing in on him, the phone wouldn’t stop ringing with demands for payment and he couldn’t pay.

One day, he went to the park and sat on a bench, wondering if life was worth living, if he should just give up and declare bankruptcy. That was when an old man with a kind face walked over to him. “Oh my, something is troubling you, isn’t it?” he asked. The businessman, deep in his despair, told the kind old man his troubles.

“I believe I can help you”, said the old man, and he reached into his pocket and dug out a chequebook. He asked the man his name, wrote out a cheque, and put it in his hand. “Take this money and meet me here in exactly one year from today; that is when you can pay it back to me.” He turned and vanished as quickly as he had appeared.

The businessman saw in his hand a cheque for $1,000,000, signed by John D. Rockefeller, who was back then, one of the richest men in the world!

“My problems are over!” cried the businessman in relief. “I can pay my debts!” He kept telling himself he would use the cheque, but instead, he put it in a safe and decided to try and handle his financial problems on his own.

Just knowing that he could always use the cheque gave him the determination to work out a way to save his business. With renewed optimism, he negotiated better deals and extended terms of payment. He closed several big sales. Within a few months, he was out of debt and making money once again.

Exactly one year later, he returned to the park with the un-cashed cheque. At the agreed-upon time, the old man appeared. But just as the executive was about to hand back the cheque and share his success story, a nurse came running up and grabbed the old man.

“I’m so glad I caught him!” she cried. “I hope he hasn’t been bothering you. He’s always escaping from the rest home and telling people he is John D. Rockefeller.” And she led the old man away.

The astonished executive just stood there, stunned. All year long he had been wheeling and dealing, buying and selling, convinced he had half a million dollars behind him. Suddenly, he realized that it wasn’t the money, real or imagined, that had turned his life around. It was his newfound self-confidence that gave him the power to achieve anything he went after.

It is rightly said, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are paltry nothing compared to what lies within us.”

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Posted in: Chintana

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