Because where there are changes, there are also opportunities
The coronavirus is here and it is disrupting our lives in ways we could not have imagined at the beginning of 2020. For school and college students, the disruption has been massive. Whether you’re logging into homeschooling every day or struggling to get connected, the need of the hour is to stay calm and develop a mindset to face the changes happening and the changes to come. The certainties around careers, studies and jobs have shifted and we have to develop an attitude that can cope with this dynamic situation.
Where there are changes, there are also opportunities. There is an expression, “When one door closes, another opens.” It is critical to stay positive, keep evaluating your options and keep flexibility in your plans. It is not a time to abandon plans, but it is a time to understand that circumstances change, opportunities come and go and you need to stay flexible.
If passion isn’t there, it can be developed
I train a lot of young rugby players and one of the keys to success in the game is to play what is called “heads up rugby”. What does that mean? Well, it means that as a team we have a plan, use this player, run this move, play quickly or slowly. But it also means that when an opportunity presents itself, take it. Keep our head up for the opportunity; don’t be afraid to go in a different direction to the plan.
I’m not a cricketer but I’m sure the great players would agree with this model also. As a batsman or bowler, you’ll have a plan to take on your opponent. You’ll have studied their strengths and weaknesses. But out in the middle, anything can happen and we need to have an open mind to resolve such challenges and quickly figure out how to make them work in our favour.
I was recently very fortunate to share the ABP Education platform talking about the variety of career opportunities in sports. Today, sports is a huge industry employing thousands, other than those talented and lucky enough to make it as a player. One consistent theme from all the comments was that a key attribute for succeeding in sports was to have passion. I couldn’t agree more. I’d also say this can be true for any career choice. And passion isn’t there or not there, it is something that can be worked on and developed. Read about a subject, read about famous people who have excelled, YouTube and Google them and learn what motivated others in the field you are interested in.
Growing a tough mindset is the key
For sure, times are tough, and tough times call for us all to take on a part of that toughness. This doesn’t mean you have to take up boxing, karate or rugby - though you’d be very welcome! Sometimes the courses we have dreamed about, or the marks we had to get, don’t happen. This is when we need to deploy our tough and resilient mindset, pick ourselves up, assess where we are and go again.
“It’s not about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.” This is actually a quote from a film, as a trivia quiz, I’ll let you all sit at home and figure out who it was by and what film it was in. But the key is that this is about resilience and having a tough mindset.
We can develop such a mindset by trying new things. It can be learning to sketch or cooking for the family, trying a new sport, challenging a friend or us to learn a verse of poetry or the latest Bollywood song. Try and go beyond what you are comfortable with. It won’t always be easy and we might fail, what is important is that we keep trying.
Make your plans, but be open to changes
The greatest resource we have during lockdown and social distancing days isn’t the internet, it isn’t our friends on zoom, it is our families around us. Every older person was once a younger person with dreams and aspirations of their own, I know that is hard to believe sometimes. Talk to your mum and dad, share with them how you feel and what is concerning you. “A problem shared is a problem halved.” Just having a chat with mum and dad can often clear your head of worries and doubts. Take time to discuss your plans, share ideas and be open to others’ suggestions. Try not to be overwhelmed by all the decisions and uncertainty swirling around.
For a long time, I have operated on a model where I plan but also keep the flexibility of mind to change the plan. I think this is a crucial mindset to develop. Yes, we have our dreams and we want to work hard to achieve them, but dreams change, the world changes and we have to have the ability to change with them. Choose toughness and dynamism.
The global challenges the last seven months have thrown up have been immense. And I am asking all our young students out there to not just cope with these changes but to be a leader of adapting to and having a positive attitude towards the crisis. Be the person at home and in your community that is supportive and encouraging, especially to your brothers and sisters, mum and dad. Be a beacon of resilience, take on the challenge. This isn’t the time to ‘cope,’ it is the time to ‘lead’.
The writer is a former British diplomat who has lived in Kolkata since 2002. He’s the founder of rugby club Jungle Crows, whose Khelo Rugby project has received global recognition in sports for social development. Walsh is a Member of the Order of the British Order (MBE).