Cut it


Some years ago while I was a student of Mass Communication at the university, I used to think I was the best of the lot. I stood second in the entrance exam. The first position was secured by an IIT Roorkie pass-out, a guy who was already a B.Tech and had taken the exam just for fun. In the consecutive tests, term practicals and semester exams, I topped my batch. The boys in my class loved me for two reasons: one, I was the smarter one between the only two girls in the batch. Two, they all copied my assignments.

However, two out of four professors that taught us were never impressed by any of my performances. One of them, I remember, had once announced in public that I would never make it to brands like The Times of India. Another professor misplaced my final semester assignments saying I never submitted them. Incidentally, I was the only person who had submitted them on time.

This made me hard. On the one hand, I stubbornly believed I was the best. On the other, I believed these professors didn’t deserve to have a student like me. I developed a negative attitude. In part, it was constructive as I was determined to prove my worth. But for the most part, it was destructive. I would know that later.

So I was right on my way to acquiring a self-destructive attitude that was already costing me a lot in college. Given my enmity with the Head of the Department, I had to share my first position with the other girl who I knew was no way near me, throughout the year. In one of the occasions, a female professor – who taught us Public Relations and Advertising – remarked to my father, “She is very sincere. She will go places.” Instead of reveling at the compliment, I thought back then, “Why didn’t she comment on my writing skills? Doesn’t she know that I am such a good writer?”

Such was my attitude. And so in the beginning, while working with a local English daily, the biggest hurdle on my way was shedding my prideful attitude. It took me weeks to know how little I knew of journalism. How badly I lacked in getting information sources. And my biggest reality check: How lousy a writer I was. My editors came to my rescue. They knew I had talent. All I needed was the right kind of attitude. They made me work hard over my weaknesses. Rebuked me in public. Mercilessly chopped up my lengthy copies. Made me do a ‘postmortem’ of edited reports. Rejected my reports. But I got my first promotion within three months. The second in six months and by the end of a year, I had made it to The Times of India, Indore Plus.

Strange, then these promotions and my selection in The Times didn’t give me as much of a high as my work did. I loved my work. I loved the hard work it took. I loved the learning it gave me. I loved the way it improved me as an individual and then as a professional. Thank you my dear editors. Today, I get content writing assignments without doing much in a city like Indore, NOT for my talent or writing skills or my contacts. BUT only for one thing: ATTITUDE.

Most people I work with, end up becoming my friends. Out of trust and friendship, they recommend me to their friends who then put in a good word to their friends. And this is precisely how I keep getting work.

My story here has two very contradictory lessons. One, you must have an attitude. Two, the attitude should be in right proportion and at the right place. Whatever your circumstances, nothing is a good excuse for having a prideful attitude. And for God’s sake, cut the ‘no-one-is-born-criminal-but-situations-make-him-so’ logic! This would make a great ‘underworld’ movie, not your life.

Many of us have faced the bitter side of life more strongly and voluminously than others. But is it a good enough reason to develop a negative attitude and ruin the rest of our life? A lot of us have struggled very hard to achieve success. But is it okay to let it ride over our minds and cripple our progress? Many others have been honest but their efforts were disrupted by others. So does that give us a license to be harsh on others?

You are my readers. You already know the answers, don’t you? My whole point is, never think that talent or skills alone would get you a successful place in any part of the world. Temporarily, it might. Permanently, the very talent you revel in would pave way for failures and unhappiness. You might impress a lot of people at the professional front by an arrogant attitude. But in the long run, you would lose friends. You would hurt people. You would come across as a difficult individual.

I am sure you have heard that ‘Character is what you do in private’. Here’s a rejoinder: ‘Attitude is what people talk about you behind your back’. The right attitude sprinkled with sincerity takes you places. Your age is such that you can still alter destructive habits, negative vibrations around you. Cut the negative attitude from your life. It is worth cutting.

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