Friday, January 1, 2016

Lessons from 2015: Courage, Patience and Learning to ask

Happy New Year!!

At the beginning of every year I take time to reflect on the state of me. I reflect on who I have become in the past year and what I need to focus on in the current year. My assessments, maybe just like yours, do not always reveal great achievements. Sometimes it’s more of what I never achieved that really takes the center of attention. This I realize does more of making me feel like I am not making progress. Yet when I look at what I achieved even beyond what I had planned, I am surprised. I notice ideas, projects, relationships and much more that had happened that I never thought or imagined would take place.

As I look back at 2015- one important lesson stands out. Courage and Patience is key to success. For it takes more than knowledge and mastery of content to make it in life. One needs patience and the courage to step out and stand out. Nothing great comes easy and fast. This has been mostly the reality of my current status of graduate school. Writing a PhD dissertation in Public Management has been a long desire for me, so I was very excited to begin in October 2014. The later part of 2014 was spent settling into the graduate school, but it is in 2015 that the real test came.

All along I had imagined I knew what I wanted to research and write on but it soon dawned on me that this was not one of those projects I had handled before. It turned to be a daily effort of trying to wake up, putting a courageous attitude and patiently reading, writing and discussing with colleagues. The real test was in May-June when I needed to finalize and submit my proposal for review. This would determine whether I continue with my research or I get out. Day after day I felt more and more confused as to what I was actually doing. The long hours of walking in the dark with a faint light pushed my patience limits to the very edge. I finally submitted my work and attended my defence on 22 July 2015. It was the longest day ever. As I presented my work and received a dozen comments on how to improve it, I felt relieved that it was over but even more burdened that most of the work was still ahead.

A related lesson has been learning to ask and ask. An ego problem one faces in graduate school is the sense that you should know what you are doing and be an expert in it. Thus many a person has sat on their desk trying to make ends on their own. I quickly learnt that I had to ask anyone I thought would be of help. After all the worst they can do, is refuse to help. That has saved me on many days of darkness.

This lessons I realize apply to all aspects of my life and I will apply them wherever I go. I am not yet where I had planned to be by this time but am at peace with the progress. So I start 2016 ready to work patiently with confidence that the sweat of my labor shall one day be rewarded.

Some thoughts on future of Universities and Scholarship

It was my pleasure to give input on this topic at the just concluded DAAD Young Scholars in Africa Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya. As one...