Advice for young people who want to make a good impression


Recently I offered the following address to a group of engineering students who invited me to speak about Building an Effective Personality. The article that follows was based on my talk.

Commit to a constant process of self improvement and people will trust and work with you. Adopt the universal values that follow and you will be sure to develop into an attractive and effective professional.

In my view, the vital values that help us build an effective life are as follows:

1. Build on truth and commitment:

- Understand that whom you are, is different from how you are seen by others. Any attempt to project qualities you do not actually possess is hollow and superficial.

- Pay attention to your thoughts because they determine who you are. Health experts often say "You are what you eat." If that holds true for the body, "You are what you think" also determines the kind of person you become.

- Make commitments carefully and keep the commitments you and your loved ones make. Remember in the Mahabharata, Arjuna brings Draupadi home. When mother Kunti called out reminding him to share with his brothers, he literally shared the wife he was bringing back with them.

When you strengthen the connection between what you say and what happens afterwards, the universe tends to cooperate by helping you create the conditions for your own success. The Bible, in John chapter 1 says, "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God.

- Learn to see and treat people in a fair and equitable manner. One of the most revealing features of a person's true character is the way we treat people who can do nothing for us. Do not curry favour with the rich and powerful. Any advantages from that kind of self serving behaviour are of very limited value and indeed may cause them the rich and powerful to lose respect for you.

2. Build on empathy: Remember that we are all manifestations of the same divine spirit. So get into the habit of also looking at the world through the eyes of others.

- Fake friendliness has a very limited benefit. Try and genuinely treat people as you would want to be treated and they will respond favourably to you as well.

- When we think too much of ourselves, it prevents us from seeing the beauty and strength in others. When we see the good in others they not only warm to us, it also helps them grow.

I like to tell the story of this teacher who as part of an educational experiment was given a class of equally intelligent children to teach. She was however told that five of these children were geniuses. Without realizing it, she gave these kids more challenging assignments and urged them on to higher achievement. This resulted in these five children growing into high performers even though they were actually of similar intelligence to the others. The lesson to us is that when we see good in others and expect better from them they are likely to respond favourably.

3. Adopt Excellence: My mother used to say, " Anything worth doing is worth doing well." I confess I have not always followed this dictum but am trying to do a better.

Everything we think, say or do reflects who we are. It behooves us therefore to ratchet up our standards in all we do. For young men this could reflect in being helpful to people around us, presenting ourselves, our homes and our work mindfully. Fully cognizant that everything we think say or do helps build our personal brand character.

4. Choose love over fear: Every act, every aspect of our lives is motivated by love or fear. An ancient sage once presented this idea in the form of two wolves that compete for our attention within. One representing love, the other representing fear. When asked which would win, his response was "the one you feed."

What this means is that even as we become increasingly aware of our thoughts, we must think speak and act from a position of love. That not only makes us more attractive it also helps others grow as well.

There is a song that goes, "we are building everyday in a good or evil way. And the structure as it grows will our inner self expose...

Together, let us work at making ourselves, our communities and indeed the nation better. I have every hope that we will together engineer these principles into our lives, creating lives of value and substance.

Pravin J P Arapurakal

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