After reading my previous blog, one of my friends called me and shared his story. I took his permission and here is an abridged version of the same. The discussion was differentiating between seeking recognition and pushing the envelope. Here is the summary.
Recognition vs pushing the envelope
We were a joint family. It was “joint and huge” we kids could make two cricket teams and play within our family itself. My father’s eldest brother was revered and he was the real hero for the whole family. In our childhood seeking his recognition and gaining his approval was the best one could get. I and one of my cousin brothers were studying together at the same school in the same grade.
It was a practice to show the result to the elders at home. I know it may be embarrassing for some, but it was a practice. My eldest uncle always asked me on the day of the school results – “How much did your cousin score?” This started with our 3rd standard. I never scored better than him. At last, I scored 4 or 5 marks more than him in the 8th standard – it took me whole 5 years to better him.
After these repeated question five year in a row, I had achieved this milestone. I went to Kaka – “I scored more than my cousin”. I think Kaka always knew the results before I could tell him because all this while probably he was asking my cousin – “how much the topper scored?” My cousin was studious and he used to remain 2nd. This was the first time when I scored better marks than him, I stood 2nd in the school. So, this time around, Kaka asked me – how much did the topper score? He had whopping 47 marks (9% in % terms) ahead of me!
Throughout these five years, my only aim was to better my scores than my cousin. I was heartbroken, however hard I try I was not able to convince him that I did something worth one’s salt. He was godfather to the whole family and seeking his recognition was the best one could get within the whole family. I gave up starting the 9th standard because I was never able to meet his expectations. He should have patted me at least once that at last after so many years I could go one step ahead on his scale.
I stopped showing my results to him as I felt I cannot please him however much I try. Though I kept learning from him as he taught me and my cousin. He was so impressed with my punctuality that he used to say – “I can match my wall clock with his entry – it is 2 PM.” This was the only and best recognition I had from him ever.
Well, after this summary, I said, so what happened afterward? He said I studied at good places scored decent marks and here I am, fairly successful.
I asked, what if you had shown him results later on too? Do you think that you would have been better off? I see the single question inspired you a lot and you tried improving yourself year after year. At last you bettered your performance. Probably a couple of years more and you would have been more successful, isn’t it a possibility?
He was taken aback! There was this “aha! moment” for him. I am sure he had not thought of this perspective. He completed my thoughts adding – When I look back on Kaka pushing my limits, I know now that he had good intentions. I was too young to understand it, I gave up. Was my giving up, on seeking his recognition for good, it can be questioned in hindsight. Probably I should have continued the ritual.
It is difficult to accept one’s mistake, isn’t it? One friend two mistakes of his and he stopped communicating to me. One of regarding managing emotions and other was regarding the international matter on which I asked him to keep a balanced opinion. So, I perfectly know this friend of mine was wrong at both the places, however it is difficult to accept one’s mistake.
He added a “but” in his thoughts. He continued – However, I believe it gave me some freedom to experiment – I learned new skills and excelled in those and won awards too. Probably because I just wanted to do the stuff without expecting anything in return. I did not have the pressure to prove myself. Probably no one was watching me if I did well there.
We concluded the call telling him that at times it is not seeking recognition. Your Kaka was pushing your envelope to do good in life. Probably, had you shown your results of every try or achievement he would have given you next goal. Since I see you were determined you would have surely achieved it. I think you mistook throughout your childhood the practice of showing your results was for blessings of elders and not for recognition.
Note – Picture of my daughter with a random scribble we did.