Wisdom comes in unexpected ways. Thanks to a lot of books, I’d read, I knew this fact far earlier than I understood its true meaning.
What might be counted as mistakes, I managed to convince myself as being so obvious learning curve. So here I stand, today, not knowing if I am overlaid layers of lies on my behavior that now all I can do is a mistake again and yet not realize I have done one.
It’s time I heard it from someone I least expected from. Surprisingly it wasn’t surprising because I knew I can expect wisdom from any source, thanks to the books.
Outside my office there is a smoking zone. A vendor sells cigarettes, Gutkha and other such consumables at a far end of this side. One might refer to this place as a relaxation lounge, but open and without any seating arrangements. People come to smoke-off their stress and ‘unload’ (read talk) off-the-record.
On one fine day, it seemed like it’d rain. FitBit showed five in the evening. The combination of pleasant weather and evening time invited me to go outside and take a walk.
A colleague was with me. After a few minutes of walk we sat on the side walk itself. A cab driver in uniform was standing nearby who happen to know this colleague of mine. They started chatting. I was all ears. There followed a discussion on Central Govt. and demonetization and later state Govt. policies. Driver seemed a well-read and informed man. In our social setup one may not expect such deep understanding of these matters from a man such as himself. But this is not what made me write this matter. That happened later.
Incidentally, a group of people who were smoking nearby left cigarette stubs on the ground and started to walk away when our driver friend broke the conversation, and to everyone’s surprise, approached this group and asked them to pick the stubs and throw in the bin put along the sidewalk.
That came unexpectedly but added to the beauty of the evening; people picked what they were leaving behind and threw in dustbin with a ‘thank you’ to the driver. Evening was not lame anymore, suddenly everyone around became so attentive to what we were talking.
He returned to us with a smile; I asked him if he had done something like this before and if he had hesitated (not that I noticed any) before approaching people to correct their mistakes for some may not receive that well, especially if questioner is not what you place equal in social hierarchy (a sad truth in India). He replied, ‘Initially, people wouldn’t appreciate a driver approaching them and asking to correct their actions. I realized, after some incidents where they completely ignored me or even asked me to mind my own business or sometimes even to do their bit myself, that I had been somewhat hesitant myself since I subconsciously acknowledged that I am placed lower in society. So, I self-taught and learned, gradually, that to convince others I had be convinced myself (Leadership 101!). Hence, I threw away the prejudices & hesitation and started to speak my mind free – with authority and concern I feel I have in such situations. I believe everyone can change when you push the right button.
I have also seen that some are there who appreciate me reminding them and may be next time they will repeat what I have done if they see someone else making the same mistake they did. It’s a chain-reaction and once provoked this feeling of responsibility keeps flowing through. I believe in power of conviction and good intentions; after all this entire country is my home and whenever and wherever I will see someone damaging its beauty I will stop, approach and ask them to correct it. People will learn, slowly, eventually.’
It was time to go back to work so I smiled, thanked him and wished him ‘all the best’ to keep making a difference. He smiled back and said, ‘I should too get back to my cab for people would be looking for their driver.’
Of course, I realized that by not stopping people from doing this mistake I was making one myself. I, now, am making one less mistake and, a difference by such small contributions.
Wisdom truly comes in unexpected ways.