Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Strive For Excellence: Kvulo Lorin, Director-Administration, Tetso College



“The world is flat!” To borrow a popular phrase coined by Thomas Friedman, our hilly state of Nagaland seems to be in the process of being flattened as well. Now, he does not mean that our round planet is changing its shape or the Naga Hills are eroding to flat plains. Friedman is actually referring to our interconnected world and the rapid sharing and exchanging of information. Coming closer home, it’s apparent with all the Mission Pot-Hole pictures, protests against electricity and warnings against administrators of certain blogs to censor content, to not do ‘this’ or ‘that or else’…, that there is a change taking place, a change that’s different from our earlier extolled head hunting practices.

Nagaland isn’t lagging too far behind in the flat race. Social media, cell phones, email and our fastest mode of communication - “gossip”, are spreading views and news quicker than ever before.  The onslaught of global TV shows, blockbuster movies, music hits and even food like pizza and burgers have not spared our humble state. 

Change is happening not just in the lives we live but in the mindsets we’re bringing into play in our daily life. We are being catapulted into a future that none of us can actually predict. I believe it is akin to a revolution where things that once seemed to be obvious (like a guaranteed job on passing your matric) are not always so, things we once took for granted (communication and civic sense) cannot be overlooked anymore.  This rapid change seems to be bringing out a dog eats dog competition for jobs, contracts and rampant consumerism in a “keeping up with the Jones’” syndrome. Pessimists may scoff but considering where we were half a century ago, I think significant progress has been made.

Flatness and change is permeating our society. Even employment avenues aren’t spared. Here in Nagaland, the HOT jobs are obviously all Government Jobs. At one time, I am sure being a hunter was right up there with being an IIM Alumni. A head hunting warrior was probably the ‘David Beckham’ of that era, well known and famous among all the villages. Today, I don’t think head hunters can command much in terms of salary (at least I hope not).

Through the decades we’ve seen a lot of HOT jobs. According to my very in-depth google research, during the 1980’s in the USA, everyone wanted to be a stockbroker, until the stock market crashed in 1987. Then there was a time when it was all about computer science, followed by what was supposedly the career of the future - “bio-technology”, and then the torrent of MBA’s. However, it is reassuring to know that the legendarily elusive Government job is still hot property for whatever reasons there may be (and I know there are many).

To be honest, I along with my friends began our ascent to greatness aiming to be doctors, IAS officers, lawyers, computer engineers etc. It’s a different matter, that I started off gunning for computer science and today, I am proudly NOT a computer scientist, or that many of my learned engineering, political scientist and historian friends seem to have taken up careers as professional NPSC and UPSC exam writers for the past… uh… sorry, I’ve lost count. Not that I have anything against computer scientists or government job aspirants (just some harmless banter).

When it comes to education, I think it’s surprising where and how the history of the Harrappan civilization or algebraic equations come into play during certain moments in our actual life. By this, I don’t mean reciting lines from Shakespeare’s ’Romeo and Juliet’ in self-defence during a fist fight.  Believe it or not, one day I actually somehow recalled learning that the Western Ghats generates electricity (may be the Dimapur power situation helped draw that one out). Steve Jobs, the innovator of iPads, iPods and iPhones, gave credit for his success to a surprisingly unlikely source—a course on calligraphy (the art of writing) that he took as an undergraduate at Reed College, under a maverick professor named Loyd Reynolds.   So, why was a computer engineer like Steve Jobs,  learning calligraphy? It had no practical application in his life, but ten years later it finally came into play when he designed the Macintosh computer as the first computer with beautiful typography. The rest is history. 

I know there are a lot of us who spend years studying with basically very little idea about what to do next. Education may or may not light up that passion about your calling in life. However, like Steve Jobs, you never know where those skills you picked up in college or school are going to come in handy. It is essential to have the basic foundation, but beyond that, I think it is all about your passion. A worst case scenario would be one where you are hunting for a job so that you don’t have to go to your job! Unfortunately, I am not aware of any pork tasting jobs for our many passionate pork consumers in Nagaland.

The gist of the Steve Jobs reference is probably that there is never any loss in learning something new. I strongly recommend taking that computer course, dreaded history or accountancy class, gardening, music,  yoga(I heard its good for losing weight) simply because knowing more might just come in handy one day. Besides, it also makes for great dinner conversations, especially for the speaker. If you have not found your passion yet, most likely it is not just going to come and hit you on the head (unless you are Isaac Newton). It might arrive subtly after a degree of hard work. But once you have found it, striving for excellence means to never stop learning in pursuit of your passion.

Allow me to conclude by referring back to Loyd Reynolds, Steve Jobs’ calligraphy instructor. Did you know that Steve Jobs was not the only famous person in those calligraphy courses taught by Loyd Reynolds? Entrepreneur Peter Norton of Norton Utilities (Norton Antivirus, my geeky buddies) and a few more famous poets who I can’t seem to recall right now were also influenced by Loyd Reynolds. What’s more interesting though is the fact that Loyd Reynolds had actually gone to Reed to teach in the English department and not calligraphy. While I strongly concur that we must never stop dreaming nor lose sight of our ambition, you also never know what you might ultimately end up doing someday or along the way. Learning never ends. No one ever said striving for excellence would be easy.  

“Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. Tetso College is a Commerce and Arts sponsored by the Council of Rengma Baptist Churches” For Feedback or comments, please email: admin@tetsocollege.org

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