Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hi, Alisha ! You are more than a Winner

Hi, Alisha ! You are more than a winner !!

Just to tell you, you ARE more than a winner ! So what, the “ sunhari takdir ki topi” - the winning title in the Dance India Dance competition, went to Salman and you missed it by a whisker – and won the 2nd position ?? I could not miss whatever there was in your eyes when the results were declared – hence this post.

Believe it – you were simply phenomenal and what is important is the fact that you have transcended your natural boundaries.

Salman is also a fabulous dancer and so are a few other boys like Jay, Mayuresh, Prince and a few other girls like Khushboo & Bhavna Purohit etc. But when it comes to the boys, who performed superbly – my take is: it is more like operating within their natural boundaries. The physicalities, that Nature has endowed the men with, actually aid and support the dancing ventures – call it stunts or power-exuding postures – that these boys executed. Well, that is not to take away from them the credit for their powerpacked performance with remarkable grace and grit, for which they deserve all kudos. I am saying this just to make a point, just to make all pause for a moment and think about what is actually happening to the hugely talented participants from the fairer gender.

Think of the girls ! Nature has designed their body and physicalities differently for other purposes and naturally, it does not support taking excessive physical strain as a male body can. Nevertheless, these girl participants did what not (!) to match up – in physical stamina - especially Alisha ! On top of that, a woman’s body also sets many other limitations, in every sense of the term. A woman’s woes !! Does anyone ever spare even a nanosecond to visualise how the girl participants might be coping with the practice and dance schedules – nonstop – for 18 weeks ( for long periods ) !!

Add to that, the types and magnitude of psycho-social barriers a girl has to break to set her free to do what she wants to do – pursue her passion and showcase her talent in full glare of public view.

And yet, these girls demonstrate the courage to compete with the boys on equal footing ! And match up !! Well, matching up has nothing to do with whether you finally win the particular competition or not – which depends upon public voting as per the format of the show – and there again, who does not know the biases, the basis of votings ? Talent is not its sole determinant, as even the worst critic of women would admit. Matching up is when you leave the stage amidst the wild applause of the gallery and tears in the eyes of the mentors ( the judges - experts who are legitimately capable to judge your talent), fully satisfied within yourself that you have done a 101% job and were no less than the ones who get to continue in the competition !!

This dance competition is only a small example of what a woman actually goes through to get her fair share in all walks of life.

But despite all barriers, hurts and biases over the ages, there have been many sung and unsung women, who transcend all their boundaries and match up to men in all walks of life. At the most, the world says ‘ Wow ! a woman has done as good as a man’ – but very few realise or give the credit to her for the fact that in so achieving, it has taken her at least twice as much as the man !!

Reminds me of what Vince Lombardi once observed :

“Nothing is more unequal than the equal treatment of the unequals .”

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Errr.. have I started sounding like a feminist? Well, I did not mean to raise placards against the menfolk ( my father was a man, my brothers are and my husband is ! I love them all !! ) I just wanted to make the Alishas feel legitimately proud of themselves and carry on undetered by so-called failures to lift trophies in some competitions. Plus I wanted to reflect ( and make you reflect, too) on concepts like “winning”, “competition”, “success”, “ accomplishment”, “ achievement motivation” and put them to perspective – in short, what is it that really matters at the end of the day ? Is it to win or to achieve, to accomplish ?

Actually, I am not really averse to competitions as such or even competition among participants of both genders. That, in fact, brings out the best in each – by setting benchmarks, by continuously increasing the bar. But beyond a certain point( i.e benchmarking against others in the similar field of expertise), competitions are not important finally. Ultimately, what matters is the attitude with which you participate and the attitude with which the gallery looks at it ! True competition lies in competing with yourself – beating your former self everytime.

Personally, I am rather averse to the termwinning” !! Winning has ‘others’ at its centre – you focus on what others are doing: to win you must defeat others.


To my mind, more than an urge to‘win’, it is healthier to have an “accomplishment attitude” or an “achievement motivation”, or a ‘winning attitude” and let me clarify winning and winning attitude are different. Winning is a specific incident of winning; whereas winning attitude is the quality of perseverence – the ability to bounce back after every fall and continue running the race to accomplish what you had set out for ! An accomplishment attitude will always have ‘yourself’ at its centre and you will always be prompted to do better than your last time to satiate your accomplishment motivation. And what is more, true achievement motivation will also have you keep an eye on what others are doing to fix your bar at a challenging level. Very simple logic : if you have already ‘accomplished’ something at a particular point of time, and you are driven by what I call ‘an accomplishment attitude’, then

- you will look forward to accomplishing something still better.

- You will challenge yourself to become a conscientious, hard worker;

- you will raise the bar after each accomplishment to make a still greater achievement ;

- you will become still more alive to grab more opportunities to learn and excel in what you do;

- you will look still deeper inside yourself to recognise your hidden strengths n talents and seek their expression ! In short, you will look more at yourself – how best and how fast you can become better than your earlier selves, while looking at others to have an idea on the benchmarks to be fixed and not necessarily to defeat them, although history shows that such a person, who runs his own race with all his might and sincerity eventually wins against others – not as a conscious effort, but as a natural outcome! And even if, there are a few still ahead of him/her, he is still an achiever as he has achieved his goals! Actually, that would constitute true ‘winning’ spirit, winning against your own limitations, winning against your own former self !!


That will also be true success in life – you get closer and closer to becoming what you can be !

Back to the specific issue of women !

My submission is : each of us must develop clear perspectives as also the sensibilities and sensitivity that it takes to sit on judgement in life. Well, ab initio, no one has a right in the first place to judge others – but in real life, whether we like it or not, we do find ourselves in specific roles wherein we have to take such calls. Hence, the more alive we are to what goes into a particular quality n level of performance, the fairer our judgement would be. At least, that way, a day will come when all the hurts, humiliations and injustice that are being meted out to the women now will see a decline !!

Ladies, do not ever set impossible standards just to compete with the males – set challenging standards, that challenge your own natural endowments, persevere and transcend - fly beyond the visible horizon ! Run your own race ! Challenge yourselves; give your best ! And then let go; listen to the music in your own heart on your accomplishments. Who gives a damn, whether the gallery applauds or not ! There will be applause, though – much deserved - in time, if the onlookers have the ‘eyes’, ‘ears’ and ‘soul’ for it !!

So, Alisha – three cheers to your exceptional talent and remarkable perseverance ! These are THE TWO things that would lead you on the path of true success and accomplishment and ultimately lead you to become who you are capable of : who you are meant to be . Do remember two things in life:

i. "Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome." Booker T. Washington,

ii. Success is not winning every battle: it is winning the war ultimately .

So… Buck up my Alishas !!


And before I end, I would share a story of nine extra-ordinary winners, who ‘won’ because they knew that something else was more important than their winning the race !

[ story collected by my friend Veera from Net]

Some time ago, at the Seattle Olympics, nine athletes, all mentally or physically challenged, were standing on the start line for the 100 m race.

The gun fired and the race began. Not everyone was running, but everyone wanted to participate and win.

They ran in threes, a boy tripped and fell, did a few somersaults and started crying.

The other eight heard him crying.

They slowed down and looked behind them.

They stopped and came back… All of them…

A girl with Down’s Syndrome sat down next to him, hugged him and asked, “Feeling better now?”

Then, all nine walked shoulder to shoulder to the finish line.


The whole crowd stood up and applauded. And the applause lasted a very long time…

1 comment:

Asha said...

Thanks S, I really had fun although it was hot and all in India. Yes! India has changed, for better or worse! I spent 1 1/2 hrs to find my little bank after 18yrs of not visiting it to get my stuff! ;P

Now India is like mini US except traffic is "organized Chaos"! hahaha!

Enjoy blogging, see you in Fall. i need to sleep for 3 weeks I guess to get over the exhaustion.