Originally published on 9th March, 2014.
As I sit down to reflect on a long and hard week that has gone by, my eyes are drawn towards a classy pen that I brought back home from my trip to Johannesburg. The pen gives a simple yet inspiring message: Make Your Mark.
This simple line was and still is very inspiring to me, probably because I’ve always wanted to do the same right from the start of my bachelors.
As far as I’ve seen, most business students in Nepal think that the time to make his/her mark is not right now. ‘Let me have a whole lot of fun right now because once my studies are complete, then I will have my whole life to actually do it’ is the general mentality. However, the job market already has a lot of people who ‘want to make a mark’, many ‘have tried to make a mark but have given up’ and a very few people ‘who have already made their mark’ and can rest on their laurels for the rest of their lives.
Having been a working student right from the start of my bachelors in 2010, I can say with confidence that the right time to groom yourself to make a mark is right now. The present is the most important because you have control over it. Past is past, future is anyone’s guess. So as students, how do we make a mark?
As I have realized with my experience, making your mark is about standing out from the rest in even the smallest yet important situations that will define how you want others to perceive you. A few ways with which you can start making a difference:
- Assignments: Nobody likes doing assignments over on the weekends. It’s easy to ask your friend to give you his/her original work, make a few changes here and there and submit it the next day. You both get good grades, no problem. However, you never feel good about it. Trust me, you don’t. When you’ve worked out the case study yourself, applied your class learning and solved the riddle that’s when you feel special. Making a mark doesn’t always have to be about inspiring others, you’ve got to be inspired yourself first. You would want to be seen as the person who writes killer answers instead of the one who you know will always be on your back asking for assignments early morning on the submission date. So how do you do it? Explore the content. Explore the way you present your answers.
- Presentations: In my college days, I’ve seen a lot of students taking presentations very casually. They just stand in front, appearing uninterested while waiting for their turn (in group presentations) and when the turn arrives, they just read out from the slides. Now, that’s not a good sight. In my previous blog, I’ve talked about how teachers are your best shot at a job or an opportunity. Now when you can’t make your mark through presentations, you are closing the door to that opportunity. It’s not only about the teachers; make your mark on the students who are listening to you. Raise the bar every time you step in front of the class.
- Speak up: It’s not just about presentations. There will be times when the teacher or even the students ask for your views on a certain matter. I’ve seen that a lot of students hesitate to speak up either because of the fear that they may be wrong or simply because they are uninterested. Personally, I don’t believe that there’s a right or wrong in college. Everyone has their own perspectives, which may not necessarily fit in with the context. Whatever you have in mind, your ideas, opinions, suggestions, etc., they all matter and it is absolutely vital that you share them with the audience. So next time you have something to say, stand up, speak up and be counted!
- Dare to be different: In class, we don’t want to deviate from the status-quo. But what if that status-quo in reality is hindering our progress? Just because you are different doesn’t mean you do not belong to the group. In fact, your different approach to classroom activities may add much needed creativity in the class dynamism. So next time there’s a role play or a case study, try to be different. Present in a different way or put in a completely new, crazy idea to the class. Every great idea is judged to be crazy at first. Always remember that.
- Be in your element: It’s important that you do what you love doing. If you aren’t doing that, you are certainly not going to make a mark. If dancing is your thing, dance. Dance in front of the class. Let people know what your talent is. It doesn’t matter what sort of talent you have or if it is relevant to the class; just express it. You will be inspiring others to ask themselves what they are good at. But remember, to be in your element, you need to know what your element is. For that, you need to explore, dare to be different and definitely speak up.
- Give it your all: I may not be the best player in the pitch during futsal games, but I make sure that I give it my all when I’m out there. That way, you’ll be leading by example. The team may find a more skillful player than you, but it’s going to be one hell of a task to replace you with an equally dedicated and hardworking player. I take the example of futsal because I want to tell you that you may not think that you’re the best in terms of presenting in class or in academics. However, if you’re giving it your best each and every time, you are only going to get better. That way, you’ll be inspiring yourself as well as others around you.
In college we mostly focus on what grades we get. But making your mark isn’t only limited to getting an ‘A’. Even the small things like helping your friend pass an exam is making a mark on their life for passing that particular exam will be the most important thing for them at that time. When you make your mark, that’s when you know you’ve done something worthwhile. You feel good about it. You’ve just got to realize that making a mark can be so much fun at the same time take you to a whole new level! Let’s be impeccable at all times. Let’s be an inspiration to people around us.