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March 2011
Avoid Pitfalls and Blunders in Life
Kiran Bedi
While on a visit to a school function on its Foundation Day in Bhubaneswar (Odisha) I was informed that there is an exclusive women’s engineering college and the girls were very keen on an interaction with me. Fortunately since my flight back to Delhi was a bit delayed I had the time. And what better opportunity than this?

An opportunity to meet over 300 women engineers who had been selected from nationwide merit tests? A whole next generation of women entrepreneurs! A whole mass of corporate executives—wealth and employment generators.I was equally enthused!

As I reached their college I saw them all lined up to receive me despite the drizzle. They were all in their twenties, with huge anticipation in their minds on almost everything…to ask what lies ahead.

As I faced them in the auditorium, (which was unlocked to meet this avalanche), I asked them what they wanted to know from me. They said “everything”! They very smartly put everything in my court. They were all bright and intelligent. What is it that I share, may not be a formal part of their degree course but more or less left to them to learn by trial and error? Or even after some blunders… I asked them if they wanted me to share with them which serious mistakes if allowed to grow could become blunders in their lives. They responded with a collective yes…I am amazed how guidance poured out, all based on the learnt experience of 35 years of my service .

Here is what I suggested to them to be alert and careful to avoid pitfalls and future sufferings .

Focus on education fully right now and do not be in a hurry to settle down in marriage before your education is fully complete…There is an age for education, for right now, you are protected, supported and provided for. You can pay full attention to your studies. It takes much higher effort to complete one’s education after marriage as lots of other responsibilities demand your time. Hence, do not postpone completing your education. All other things can wait. Do not rush into marriage bonds on assurances because after marriage they can remain unfulfilled for reasons debatable. So why make this the reason for a breach of promise and hurt your marriage?

Try and be your own master by looking at options of self-employment. Even if it means starting small! Make partnerships amongst yourselves. Being your own master and being in control of your creativity is a big leap. Look for being an employer rather than being an employee. Explore these options before you look for quick placements. Keep in mind the fire within you to be your own master.

Be prepared for mobility. For this is the age to do so, to explore the world and not look for security and status quo…! This is growth time to be adventurous and stay on the learning curve. It will not happen without you being willing to take newer challenges. Travelling will groom you to be tougher and dynamic. So do not resist change at this age.

Take on new learnings as they come your way. Which means more and more training is welcome. Do not avoid it or postpone it ever. Even when married do not let it go…Men do not wait, they go. Women tend to put family first all the time and sacrifice growth. And then get left behind.

If there is an emergency which needs you alone then sacrifice, but not for any and every situation. Ensure and seek family support for your career growth.

Choose your partners in life most carefully for this is going to change your life completely. Do not rush into it. Have a long engagement and test out as much as is possible. A long engagement may reveal a lot of the person’s qualities which may not be acceptable later on. Marriage is a risk; minimise the risk so that you make your life one of companionship and growth and not a relationship of sacrifice, life long adjustment and status quo.

Grow up as givers with no expectations from others. Give to your family, support those who need to be supported, retain full control on your own resources, do not pass over your financial controls to anyone else, lest you need permission even for your own earnings. It is not being selfish but being in control and in command .

Pay for your comfort. Spend money for work you can delegate, to buy rest for yourself so that you can spend time on your own development and activities you want to be involved in. Do not volunteer to do what you are not comfortable doing. Find ways and means to buy time.

Do not dress for others. Dress for your own selves. Do not dress to seek approval or acceptance. Dress as it makes you comfortable. All consumption habits have to be a part of your authentic self. .

All personal and professional decisions are to be taken by you. Consult your trusted people if you need to, but the decisions have to be your own for you are going to live with it.

Find time for being with your own self, to listen to your inner voice. This is your own space. Live within your own selves too. And let your space be just your own where you are just with your own self. 

Extract from Kiran Bedi’s Book :Issues and Views

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