As soon as the individual completes his education, or achieves a certain level of it, one yearns for a living; if not exactly a “living”, then at least a platform to start a practical career. However, one gets overwhelmed by the challenges they have to face in the outer world, for these hurdles are far different from the obstacles or hindrances you observe during your educational years. Especially in a society like ours, where the number of graduates is far greater than the number of job opportunities, and where people are prone to class complexities and feeling emotions such as selfishness and jealousy, which makes this phase even more difficult. So, you stumble and wobble, as you find very few guides, if lucky, who direct you towards the right path; because the majority is usually made up of those who will try to drag you to the wrong path, due to a hidden fear of your growth.
At such instances, when you find society tough and bleak, and your chances to prevail very low, one questions their own self about where things went wrong? If you thoroughly study the lives of those who easily managed to attain a “space” in this society during their formative years, these personalities worked, throughout their educational careers, not just on their academics, but on their skills as well. For that reason, when they step into the job market, their foresight to practice their skills beforehand gives them an edge; and for sure, no institution or company ignores a person with a polished skill set.
Now, the question arrives, which skill should a student choose to polish? The answer is simple. Any activity that excites you, makes you happy, reflects your personality, or is a God-Gifted talent could be your pick. Then you must start working on refining it. Step by step, by getting better at it, you reach a level of excellence, hence that particular skill becomes your talent.
The term excellence is not new at all. Rather, it traces its roots to the ancient Greeks. According to the Greek philosophers, excellence means “highest good”. They came up with four objectives, that if we achieve, we can accomplish the highest good in any of our skills. Firstly, they believe that we must divide our time equally. One part of our day must be given to those responsibilities that are compulsory for us to perform. The second part is to rest and the third part is the period that one must give to a particular skill.
Secondly, according to the philosophers, an individual must acquire the education that supports their skills or is relevant to a field that one has an inner desire to excel in. Referring to a major problem in our society, career counselling and guidance are major shortcomings. We are prone towards pigeon-holing our youth into the boxes such as a doctor, engineer, and computer scientist, rather than understanding the psyche of a student and then directing them towards a particular educational career that one must attain in order to fulfil their passion.
Thirdly, we must teach ourselves and our upcoming generations to develop creativity. For creativity breeds, innovation and innovation is what sets us apart from others. Once we start critically analyzing our activities that are specifically beneficial for our particular skill, it allows us to question our conscience, which elevates our level of creativity. When you and I develop a habit of questioning the reasons behind why we perform a particular practice, it keeps us motivated, consistent, and persistent enough to keep working.
Lastly, the ones willing to prevail must try to gather around those who have a demonstrated proficiency with that particular skill, that you wish to polish. Such sittings and communications make it easier for you to grasp more details regarding your target. Pluto, in Phaedrus, describes such an instance. He states that we, as individuals, are dependent on a chariot, to reach the heights of “excellence”. We don’t have wings to fly, but there are two horses with wings, that belong to the chariot. One horse has a dark tone. It wants all human desires and worldly luxuries, for example, sleep, food, etc. Nevertheless, the dark horse does not care about anyone but fears the whip that the rider holds. The other horse has a lighter tone. It craves respect, pride, and dignity. It too is least concerned about anything, but praise and blame. For the rider to reach the destination, they must not become entrenched in such matters, yet they must also not disregard them altogether. However, one must keep in mind that it is inhuman to isolate oneself from worldly desires. So, to attain the target, one must manage both the horses in such a manner that they do not revolt, but that they fly in the right direction. As aforementioned, by providing yourself with such company and atmosphere, one can control these emotions and desires to sustain distractions.
Although these four techniques might seem quite dry and bookish, one cannot question their prudence. Yet, considering these four steps for success the only key would not be sane, because nature has its plans as well. As Hazrat Ali (RA) said that he recognized the glory of God upon the failure of my own planning, one must never forget the eternal authority and will of the creator. Ashfaq Ahmed Sahib always talked about making things easier for others. So with all this drudgery, let’s try to be a source of compassion and ease for those trying to achieve their goals around us. As far as the matter of failures and hardships is concerned, what is it that one would grab without even failing? Let’s remember what Faiz said:
مانا کہ یہ سنسان گھڑی سخت کڑی ہے
لیکن میرے دل یہ تو فقط اِک ہی گھڑی ہے
ہمت کرے جینے کو تو اک عمر پڑی ہے
[Admittedly, this moment of hardship is quite hard
But my heart, this is but only one moment
Find the will, there is a life to be lived]
(The writer is a student of English Literature at Govt College University, Lahore.)