The Bullseye

I would remember 26th of May, 2013 for something more than just being my sixteenth birthday. My tenth grade board examination result was to be declared that day. I decided to spend it like any other day in the month of May would be spent- ‘playing cricket’.

After half of the morning and whole of the afternoon playing a club match, I dedicated the evening to soft ball cricket. Suddenly, I had a phone call. It is the only time I have ever answered a phone call between any cricket match. If not for the news about my result, the tradition would have probably continued.

On the other side of the phone was my friend to inform me how I had fared. Though confident that I had done well, my heart pounded hard for a jiffy. Like any normal sixteen year old, I believed the tenth board exams the most decisive juncture of my life. Today, approaching graduation, I can only laugh off at my thoughts.

Heartbeats were back normal when I was told that I had passed with a distinction. But soon they raced again. I was on cloud nine when I was told that I had all A+’s and also that my aggregate was high. I was happy, so were my friends. Congratulations seemed to pour like advises; I seemed to enjoy the former. It was the birthday when I received the maximum phone calls. Definitely the results had a major part to play in it being so. While every person seemed to be straight forward in mentioning regards, there was one person who had other views- my Father. I walked up to him expecting him to tell me what a great news it was. Contrary to my expectation, that was not to happen.

Composed as ever, caressing his beard, with a millimetre of a smile he said, “Son. You hardly studied for a few hours for a month before the examination and you scored so well. Wouldn’t you have scored more if you had put in another hard yard?”

I was stunned. The only thought that hit me was, “You must be kidding.” I could see that he was happy at the prospect that his son had fared well in an important examination. Then why couldn’t he accept it and show his emotions. I had worked hard to score well and in the end I was told that the result was just a pale shadow of something I could have achieved but didn’t.

I was not to be saddened so easily. I thought I was smart. I told myself, “Rather than focus on one negative feedback, I would focus on many others which told me how great it was.” I was happy again.

I changed boards for my senior secondary education. I still believed my results great as I belonged to the cream of the entire lot.

Let’s jump two years ahead. One fine morning of April 2015 the whole aura which encircled the release of board examination results was already around. I was more composed this time. The results were out and as on the previous occasion, I fared well. My aggregate was lesser compared to the one in school days but still good enough to be boasted about. The army of applauders and the lone critic were all geared up. Déjà Vu!

“It’s not bad, but I see your aggregate has dropped”, were my Dad’s only words. I was prepared for this argument. I thought I would outsmart him by attributing it to the switching of boards as the current one was stricter in awarding marks. Some battles just cannot be won. The response was easy as the last time. “Do you mean a batsman has the freedom to score even a run less because he is playing on foreign soil?” Cease fire. I thought about the response with little effect.

For my graduation I took up a management course. Close to 10 months into the course I believed I had hit the bullseye. My second semester marksheet lay in my hand. Though it had multiple figures printed, I could focus only on one of them.

Business Mathematics- Maximum Marks-100; Marks Obtained- 100.

I had done it. Finally I had the perfect score. No one could deny the fact that this was the best one could ever do. I walked up to my father with a feeling that he could not find any fault in it, at least when it came to Business Mathematics. One by one he read out the marks and finally came the most awaited one.

“Business Mathematics- 100/100. Good. Does it mean you know the whole of business mathematics?”

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It was indeed a brilliant question.  Does scoring full marks in a subject mean knowing the entire subject? I questioned myself several times and every time the answer was the same.

A big No.

All I could conclude was that I had presented the little knowledge I had in Business Mathematics in a span of 2.5 hours on a sheet of paper and the teacher who assessed it found it convincing enough to be scored a 100. Also the little knowledge so concerned was just about the small puddle in the form of the syllabus and I had an entire ocean named Business Mathematics left to be explored. Now why was it left to be explored? Simple- I never made an attempt to. The purpose of studying was so unidirectional that I even failed to give a second thought that there existed the subject which went beyond the textbook and the answer sheet. A new question arose, “Will knowing business mathematics completely fetch me a perfect score? The answer was clear- it didn’t matter.

I recollected the three happenings. They had a thing in common. All the three questions were attempts to make me realize the actual purpose of any action I undertake. It urged me to give a thought that why in the first place I had performed the actions whose results I held in pride.

One of the biggest challenges towards inner growth is the inability of an individual to primarily understand why he does something. Such an inability is bred out of a desired result he seeks through that action.

A strong desire about the result inclines him to emphasise the destination more than the means used to achieve it. This ends over means philosophy is extremely dangerous as he may adopt any, even unfair, means to achieve his desired result. Moreover, a clinging desire to gain such notionally lower result destroys the essence of any action which is much subtler in reality.

That is also the reason why an individual inclined to a lower result feels misery on non accomplishment of that result. A mature and evolved doer on the other hand would emphasise the action more than the result. He performs the action for the action and not for the result. To evolve oneself to this level, one requires spiritual competency in his conduct.

Not understanding the purpose of an action we undertake renders the entire action useless. Even though we may say that we have put in our heart and soul into the act, an inability to realise the main purpose behind it ruins the entire cause. A simple example to explain this would be our parents and teachers continuously pushing us to study to understand a subject and not merely to pass exams. An exam oriented study pattern may serve the lower goal of passing an exam but; kills the inner essence of studying- understanding facts, using the associated knowledge for societal betterment and finally spreading it for global sustenance.

This without a shade of doubt is the fact which makes one student better and more competent in his field of specialisation and the other merely remains an average achiever even though both were taught by the same teacher. Once the purpose of any action is known, one can orient oneself to work in the right direction with the proper mindset. Had I had such a mindset before the examination, the enlightening question my father asked me would have been something which I could have figured out myself thereby orienting myself in a better direction. I would have probably studied simply for the sake of knowledge it would have given me. May come an exam, be it so.

A mind which understands the purpose of the action tunes itself towards the cause of the action. A body carrying such a mind is the best resource one can possess towards one’s quest to accomplish any action, and not result, skilfully.

The message is simple- “Aim the cause, not the result. You’ll see the bullseye. Work hard to hit it.”

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