On Thursday, I had the good fortune of hearing Dr. Abdul Kalam in his keynote address at the PMI Conference. His reputation as a great speaker and a great thought leader of our time was only enhanced in my view when I heard him speak. At this age, he still speaks with a lot of vigour and feeling and brings the audience to it’s feet with his simple yet effective ideas. From the many topics that he spoke about, there are two topics which I felt is worth sharing.
Firstly, he wanted the youth of India to embrace this three line statement “I can do it. We can do it. India can do it.”. Though the statement is very simple, there is a lot of depth in this. For starters, “I can do it” indicates the level of confidence that the youth in India need to start working on. Instead of looking at things and commenting that this cannot change, this has gone on for ages, we are helpless, Dr. Kalam asks the youth of India to start believing that they can make the change. Whatever be the situation, the first step comes from the belief that one can do it.
The second statement “We can do it”, is all about team work. It is great to be an individual performer, but if you want to have sustained success on the long run, you need to be a part of a team and together have the confidence that things can be done. Team work is not just limited to each person doing his or her part of the deal, but in helping the team itself grow as an single entity encompassing the cultural boundaries, skills, strengths and ability to shape the future.
The last statement “India can do it”, is more aimed at building the thought process that at the end we are all responsible for building the nation of the future. Instead of saying that this is how India is and things cannot change, Dr. Kalam suggests the youth to start believe that they can change things. Even if things do not change at a rapid pace, it is only if this belief is there then things will start to change.
The second topic which Dr. Kalam spoke about and which touched a chord with the audience especially in the light of current incidents in India was the statement “Work with integrity, grow with integrity”. One of the interesting queries from the audience was given the fact that there is so much corruption from the top, it is not always possible to “Work with integrity”, so how do we proceed in this scenario. In response, Dr. Kalam mentioned that in his career spanning 40 odd years, he worked with almost all departments and worked with a lot of ministers, but no one asked him to be corrupt or accept corrupt practices. The reason was the brand Kalam which he build, which was of a non-corrupt person who will not be corrupt. So he requested all individuals to start building their own brand of not being corrupt and being a person with high integrity. This could result in some personal sacrifices and delayed benefits in some cases, but in the long run, it helps build a brand that is respected by one and all.
So in a nutshell, the two messages from Dr. Abdul Kalam to the youth are:
1) Internalize the thought: “I can do it, We can do it, India can do it”
2) Follow the thought: “Work with integrity, Grow with integrity.”