What Youth Want

India today is a very different country from the one I grew up in.

Youngsters in India have always been smart – but today, they also have many more opportunities to show off their intelligence, leverage it into tangible benefits, even monetize it in a way that wasn’t easy or intuitive a few decades ago.

But one thing still remains the same. Your average young Indian lacks confidence. Self-belief. The secure inner knowledge that what they possess will translate into success.

When I was a teenager, film stars, business leaders, best-selling authors and politicians were remote, famous figures one could only admire from afar, or at best, dream of gawking at from modestly close quarters. Limited access was indeed cultivated and nurtured as a symbol of fame and greatness.

Today, I count as personal friends, or have at least had the privilege of meeting in person, celebrities like Bollywood movie superstar Amitabh Bachchan, America’s foremost business consultant Jay Abraham, bestselling writer Seth Godin, and a British Member of Parliament, among many more of the ‘Rich and Famous’ club.

And I no longer view this with the same awe and disbelief as a typical Indian youngster would. I’ve learned that they too are people, like me and you, whom you can meet and get to know – if you want to and are persistent enough.

Much of this confidence stems from traveling to many parts of the world, meeting and interacting with well-known personalities in different areas (medicine, sports, movies, politics and more), and therefore realizing how friendly and down-to-earth many of these ‘super stars’ really are – when you get to know them.

And a lot of it also comes from setting some daring targets, and accomplishing some difficult goals.

Dr.Mani in FAST COMPANY I was thrilled the first time my letter to INDIA TODAY magazine (with over 1 million readers) got published as part of the front page editorial – and even more so when my work with CHD was featured in a short write-up in FAST COMPANY.

I was excited about meeting and shaking hands with Jay Abraham at Detroit, having dinner at the House of Commons in London, and speaking with Frank McKinney on the telephone for half an hour.

Over time, success breeds confidence, and it just keeps growing in an upward spiral.

All this is a prelude to what I really wanted to write about…

How much more impactful would it be if every Indian youngster had this same confidence – early on in life?

Even to this day, I feel uncomfortable (and embarrassed) when someone calls on the phone, or emails me, or even tweets a note, and displays stunned disbelief and extreme excitement at actually communicating with ME – because they didn’t expect to be “talking to a celebrity”!

While I have seen star-struck behavior in other countries too, it is usually reserved for film stars and sports heroes. I’ve never seen pioneer heart surgeons mobbed at conferences, or folks queueing up to shake hands with even very popular writers or marketers.

Why do Indian youngsters have a relatively poor self-image, despite being equal (if not, as I personally believe, better than other nationalities) in competence, skills and education?

I suspect it is competition. Overwhelming, crushing, unnerving competition – that requires an outstanding effort to stand out and shine over a crowd of hundreds of millions of peers.

Many try and give up. Early, small success may help them start off on that upward spiral that never stops growing. And helping give that tiny boost is something I’ve focused on doing lately.

I’m funding a young college student through his physical education course – after which he will find a job as instructor in a high school, setting him financially free to support his elderly mother and family.

I’m mentoring a young man who is one of the most enthusiastic people I’ve taught – and in just a few months, I notice a significant increase in his degree of confidence and a more sure and secure note to his emails.

I’m helping a talented young blogger try and reach for the stars – by seeing if we can drive enough RSS feed subscribers to her blog and get her enough votes to win the ‘Blogging Idol 2’ contest.

I’m doing this because, in my heart, I believe that this confidence boost will completely alter their perspective and create the platform for their overwhelming success in the future.

Confidence – especially confidence in one’s own self – is often hard to gain… but once gained, is much harder to shatter.

Giving our youth this essential morale builder should probably be the responsibility and duty of every successful achiever.

It will change the world they grow up in – and make it a brighter place for all of us. Go, change YOUR world. Today.

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Meeting a SUPER-star

Dr.Mani meets Amitabh Bachchan

Who’s he?

See this – or this – or this!

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The Impact of a Vision

Vision

Last night I was very tired. Not just physically tired, but mentally exhausted, emotionally weary.

But I couldn’t sleep. For an hour, I tossed and turned, tortured by a haunting question:

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How Can a Heart Surgeon Blog for Influence?

Surgeon

Today, I’d like to tell you a story.

It takes you behind the scenes of a heart operation, reveals a secret and teaches a powerful lesson in the end.

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“I NEVER Make Mistakes” – Oh, Grow Up!

I deeply understand ARROGANCE.

Being a doctor, especially a heart surgeon, helps.  🙂

Most (if not all) doctors, and certainly all heart surgeons, believe they are fantastic, extra-ordinary, exceptional people.  The confidence (that always borders on, and often crosses the line into, arrogance) is a necessary part of being in the specialty.

Think about it for a moment.  If a surgeon were to begin an operation without a certain level of confidence, s/he might simply get paralyzed by the enormity of the challenge, the potential risks of a complication, the dangers of the procedure involved.

The solution:  Develop a deep inner confidence that shrugs off such doubts and allows skillful performance of a complex operation.

In my work on the Web, I play in some niche markets that are equally hyper-competitive, like the entrepreneurial home business, infopreneur and Internet marketing niches.

Players in these niches have internalized the useful life message I first heard from best-selling author Dave Pelzer – “Never let them see you bleed!”

So my peers (or ‘competitors’) pretend and preen, living the mantra of ‘fake it till you make it’, until they either reach a level when it becomes real – or they quit.

And to an extent that’s fine – but there’s a stranger thing that happens along the way…

They Stop Making Mistakes!

Or, to be more precise, they stop ADMITTING to the mistakes they make.

Why?

Because it won’t fit their image of near-perfect immaculate creations.  And that’s scary, even dangerous in certain situations (like a ‘over-confident’ surgeon indulging in a procedure s/he is not competent to carry out, even if confident enough to try).

And after getting in over their heads into deep water, these masters of self-deception and posturing still gamely struggle on.  Again, that’s fine – giving up on anything when the going gets tough is not a great solution, but what’s sad is they miss a valuable LEARNING experience.

By pretending to be perfect, flawless, incapable of making a mistake, they are really shooting themselves in the foot.

You see, there really is no benefit in making the claim:

“I NEVER make mistakes”

At best, it brands you a fool in the minds and eyes of people watching and listening to you.  At worst, it makes you loathed and disliked by more ‘real’ people who like relating to other ‘real’ people instead of mindless caricatures and ego-images.

Everyone makes mistakes.  No doubt about it.  What matters is how one deals with them – how quickly, how effectively, how smartly.  That defines you, your level of growth and wisdom, your maturity and suitability for huge success.

Everyone bleeds.  Don’t question that, we all hurt and suffer from time to time.  Do THAT in private, you don’t need to show the world how hard you worked, struggled or fought to get where you did.  That’s what Dave meant by “Don’t let them see you BLEED!”

Your competition scans your business for weakness like a bloodhound scents blood.  Don’t let them find your chinks and soft spots.  But at the same time, don’t posture and pretend to be what you aren’t… infallible.

That’s just downright stupid.

Made a mistake?  Admit it.  Apologize.  Or at least, take quick remedial action.

The way Steve Jobs handled his (potentially) catastrophic iPhone price cut is a case in point.  After slashing the price on Apple’s blockbuster mega-hit product by $200 just months after release, he risked antagonizing a core fan base.

A mistake.  Maybe a calculated one, but still a mistake.

Steve didn’t posture and spin things in a flim-flam, smoke-and-mirrors fashion.  He just got right to the point and gave all buyers a $100 credit – at an Apple store.

Masterful damage control.  A brilliant way to handle a mistake.  And he didn’t even apologize!

On the flip side, there are obvious, glaring mistakes made by hundreds of entrepreneurs every day.  Some are so apparent, even novices can see them.  Yet you see people who should know better claiming they did not goof up.

“I NEVER Make Mistakes”

Wake up, folks.  Even your mother won’t believe THAT one!

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