Recently, a video about the millennials has gone viral, where in one of the segments the speaker talks about how the youth want to make an impact on the world. Well, even though I am not from that particular segment, I too had similar aspirations when I joined the workforce. I wanted to make an impact in the world with my work, however small it was. So, at my first job at the call center, I tried to be nice and patient to the person at the other end of the phone line who was ranting about his order or his credit card bill. I then spent 13 years working in various positions in multinational companies and did various jobs, but none of them made me feel the way I did with the job I did in the last two weeks.
The word ‘impact’ had a whole new meaning.
In the last two weeks, I was working as a substitute teacher at my son’s school in the kindergarten section. I was nervous. Kids can sense fear and I didn’t want them to see me as a nervous wreck since this was my first time at working with kids other than my son. So, as the day progressed, I was helping and teaching different kids how to hold the pencil properly, how to curve the ‘g’s and in the right direction, how to add numbers etc. I was applauding and pushing them to achieve what I believed was their potential. There were kids who didn’t need my help and there were kids who needed constant hand holding. After a busy day, when I was going back home I realized I had never felt so satisfied about my job in all of those 13 years. Because, in school, I knew I made at least one child see his true potential. That child tomorrow would either be a sportsperson or maybe a CEO of a company or an artist. And I was there to see him blossom.
Over the course of two weeks, I was also supervising children from lower kindergarten grade, which is another ballgame. The love you shower on them when they enter class is reciprocated back to you in the form of their smiles. Their self-confidence rises and falls which each word that the teacher says, and that ladies and gentlemen, is when you know you have made an impact on an individual. The child is seeing respect, learning words and sharing food items and learning all of it, at the same time in school.
So I can’t say it enough: teachers in all schools are the most underrated and underpaid professionals of our times. Especially teachers of kids with special needs – they are definitely made of a different metal. Seeing the child struggle with a word you know even in your sleep, but watching him/her struggle with it definitely requires a different level of persistence to go to work every single day.
As a society we have failed when we don’t give our teachers the same respect, that you would give to a CEO of a well known corporation. When most of us are busy making plans and are rushing out of the office on a Friday, the teachers are sorting the worksheets for the next week. When most of us are planning lunches with seniors or juniors, the teachers are teaching them table manners and how one must clean up after oneself. The reason we learn and develop imagination lies in the way the stories are told to us.
I know of a gentleman (semi-retired, who has kissed success in various roles across his career) who is a part of Teach India movement. I now understand why he dedicates a part of his week to teaching in government schools in India. Because, no matter how much a person reaches professional heights, no matter how good your appraisal was or your salary is, if a part of you is not giving back to the society that one is a part of, then the circle of your existence will never be complete. Not everyone is capable of teaching but there are so many social causes that one can be a part of now. There are teams that help in beautifying your city; there are teams that help in planting trees, folks who work with acid victims, folks who are getting medical and sanitation facilities to women and rural folks.
Pursue your professional work, work at your corporations for that promotion, after all people do have to make a living. But I can guarantee you that the satisfaction that you will get when you do something without getting a monetary benefit back is going to be more gratifying and memorable. Dedicate that one hour of your day or a week or month for a stranger. Then you will realize the value of the word ‘impact.’
I believe that our purpose in life is not simply to fill our bank accounts, but also to give of yourself to better mankind. Some of you may think this is all philosophy and not practical, but all I am saying is grab the opportunities that come your way when it comes to volunteering. It will teach you more lessons than binge-watching episodes on TV.
Every religion teaches you to give a percentage of your wealth to charity. I say donate your time and then feel the happiness running through your body as you sleep at night.