Mahatma Gandhi musings on his 150th birth anniversary

October 2, 2018 marked Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary. In this MultiConnexions blog, CEO Sheba Nandkeolyar reminisces on how relevant Gandhi is even today in our personal lives, in our business lives and how his teachings and way of life has shaped her own life. She shares a very personal experience from her life in this blog along with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi that has stayed with her all her life and shaped the person she is today.

In my school days, things came to a head when I requested a new teacher (or at least a new section in school) to get away from a dreadful teacher.

She would pick on me for everything. One day it was my school shoes were not polished well enough and my uniform was not ironed right. The next, it was my English essay was just not the right length, or my maths was too perfect, so I must have had my parents do it for me. Oh my gosh! There were so many complaints that I lost track of them.

The harder I tried the worse it became, and it was only much later that I realised I was equally to blame.

While I wished all the teachers good morning very happily every day, I had a different approach to this teacher because I did not like her. I avoided her, I rarely smiled at her, I often left my homework incomplete as I thought it didn’t matter really as she would always pick on me. I started turning into a grumpy, complaining child. My parents were worried as I was normally an easy-going, happy child. My marks and grades were suffering, and I was turning into a negative and argumentative child.

One afternoon during lunchtime, I decided to approach another teacher whom I loved very much. I was going to a Christian school and she was a nun. In fact, she was an Irish nun. I explained to her honestly about my predicament and asked her advice and whether I should complain about this teacher to our school principal. Her response was shocking to a child desperately looking for solutions.

She said, “You do nothing, except only one small thing that involves no one else but you.”

I could not understand what she meant, and she decided to explain further. She said, “It is the month of October – do you know the importance of this month?”

I said, “Well, there is Diwali around the corner.”

She said, “No, it is Mahatma Gandhi’s birth month – a month when we should reflect on why he was called the ‘father of the nation’.”

An Irish nun, a strong Gandhian follower, she was the one who first introduced me to a few of Gandhi’s quotes and helped me live them.

She advised me not to expect the teacher to change her attitude to me but wanted me to do all the things I wanted the teacher to do. She chalked out a 10-day program for me.

Day 1 – Smile and wish this teacher good morning and continue to do this every day, even if she scowled at me.

Day 2 – Present her with a flower – a Jacaranda flower which would have dropped off the tree we had in our school premises.

Day 3 – Present her with my homework first; before any other child does so.

Day 4 – Even if she scolded me for any reason, try not to react negatively and withdraw but continue to sit in front and pay attention.

Day 5 – Go up and ask her if you can help her by carrying her pile of books to the staff room.

Day 6 – Go to her and ask her to assist you with a maths problem, even if you know the solution.

Day 7 – Ask her if you can recite one of your poems you have written to the whole class and to her.

Day 8 – Ask her if she wants you to mind the class in case she needs to go out for a while.

Day 9 – Share with her what hobbies you have and show her your stamp collection book.

Day 10 – Be grateful and pray that you are so lucky to have a wonderful family, a great school you can attend and wonderful classmates too. So many poor children out there continue to struggle and have none of these.

She predicted that I will see this teacher smiling at me, even before I smiled and wished her good morning on the 10th day. And it was truly a miracle, as this is exactly what happened on the 10th day.

This beautiful soul, this much-loved nun from another part of the world and another religion, made me live Gandhiji’s quote.

This quote had a deep impression on me and shaped my approach to everything thereafter. Needless to add, this teacher became one of my closest and staunchest supporters over the years.

People often ask me where I get my abundance of positivity from. I can only trace this to that saying which has shaped my life ever since my childhood. When you take destiny in your own hands and give it the best of your ability, the world smiles back at you. Positivity attracts abundance and more positive energy that uplifts you. It makes your mind sharper and your thoughts more focused, while negativity and high expectations of others leads to destructive thinking where the mind loses focus and confusion sets in.

In the business world, it is no different and the switch from a YOU focus to a ME focus drives ownership and not just good outcomes, but great outcomes.

With such a strong personal belief shaping my life, it is no wonder then that we have this quote as one of our guiding principles at MultiConnexions.

No wonder our clients and partners who visit us always remark on this positivity and camaraderie that we all share. Gratitude is a mindset that creates the best building blocks for positivity. This is the glue that holds us together.

While change is often the only constant in our world today, Gandhiji’s philosophy will remain relevant, today, tomorrow and in the future – irrespective of all changes and disruptions.

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