We all are fortunate enough to live in this part of the world where we get to meet people from a range of diverse cultures. We get to visit places that are at the other end of the globe. Yet after all this exposure, I feel our character is ‘static.’ Of course we improve our knowledge about different cultures, but ‘we’ as a person do not change.
As we move forward in life, we gain different experiences, learn from our mentors and improve our skills as a professional. This takes us one step higher on the ladder of a successful career. We conclude that we are progressing well in life. But let us take a step back and re-think all this.
Recall the version of yourself 5 years in the past, you as a person not as a professional. You may have had some very good habits and some bad ones too. All of us have some flaws in our character, nobody is perfect. Now compare that self with the version of you now. Do you still have the same flaws? Maybe even more? As life got busy with work, our focus on building the “career” increased but the time we spend on improving our character substantially reduced.
I believe that along with the ‘professional learning,’ we need to learn to build our characters also. If we look around, we will surely find something to learn from every single person we meet – even the office boy or the security guard.
The other day I was in a parking lot of a mall and a porter was following a middle aged man to his Mercedes to load his groceries into the car’s trunk. Nothing extraordinary in this scene – yet it still shocked me. The owner of the Mercedes was very serious looking and had a stern look. But the porter, who didn’t have one quarter the wealth of the middle aged man, wore a priceless smile. The contentment on his face was so evident that anyone looking at him will end up smiling. That taught me something new – gratefulness.
This is just one example. If we look around ourselves, we’ll definitely find something that will add on to our character. All we need to do is just look for it. So next time when you go to a new place or meet someone, make sure you observe them. Maybe they have a very humble tone, or their generosity impresses you. Pick up these things from them and try to instill them in yourself because –
“If today did not make you a better person than yesterday, then you are not growing up, you are just growing old.”
By Amna Siddiqui
Teaching Assistant, Khalifa University