Security is in excellence, not in job

Javed Akhtar, Poet

I have often narrated this incident when asked to speak in schools and colleges. The best professional advice I ever got was when I was 15 years old. I had just completed my schooling from Aligarh when my father took me to visit his friend, Khwaja Ahmed Farooqi, in Delhi.
He took us out for lunch and asked me, “What do you want to do in future?” Now at 15, you think you can do anything and everything, so I gave him five or six alternatives. He then suggested that I should become a grass cutter.
I was naturally somewhat startled by this piece of advice but he went on to say: “But only on condition that you become the best grass cutter in the world. So, if the President of India wants the Rashtrapati Bhavan lawns to be trimmed, you should be the one person he thinks of.”

He then said something which I will always remember: “Koi kaam mamuli nahin hota, kaam karnewallah mamuli hota hai (no work or job is small; it is only the worker who may be small).” Success is ultimately not in the job itself; it is in how well you do your job.


You don’t have to be an industrialist

Rahul Bajaj, Chairman, Bajaj Auto

One evening when I was 16, my father sat with me for a post-dinner conversation. He said that according to Indian tradition, when a son turns 16, the father should start treating him as a friend.

And so, he was speaking to me both as father and as friend. He made it very clear that though I was born in a business family, there was no compulsion for me to take on the reins later.

I was free to pursue whatever career my heart desired. I specifically remember him telling me that it was absolutely fine if I wanted to be a tennis player or a mountaineer. But, he added, I must always aim at being the best.

There should be no compromise on this. If I chose tennis, I should aim at winning at Wimbledon, or if I climbed mountains, I should aim to climb Mount Everest.

Even if I wanted to be a cook, he said, there was no harm in it as long as I aimed to become a top chef. It was my choice to stay with the family business. But his emphasis on excellence has always inspired me to push boundaries.