Jose Thomas

My Blog

Monday 16th August, 2010



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First of all, let me wish all of you a very happy Independence Day.

I dedicate this post to the courageous men who fought for our freedom – the Father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and their peers. Their perseverance along with their vision and commitment to gain independence for the country was also the commitment they made to themselves and the nation and today, we, its citizens are enjoying the fruits of the labour of these great souls.

All of us know that our leaders especially Gandhiji had to face challenges beyond our imagination. He was ridiculed, insulted many a time, accused and persecuted –in spite of all this, he fought on to attain freedom for our nation.

I have always believed that we have to make a serious commitment to be able to achieve anything.
A commitment that is solid and of course, attainable.

I want narrate a little story, an incident that changed my life and which resulted in starting my school-The Choice School, which many you may be familiar with.

In 1990 I was toying with the idea of starting a venture that would have social significance in terms of giving back something to the society that I live in i.e. - Kochi, Kerala, India. This was purely based on a no-profit motive.

Initially I wanted to build a hospital with world class amenities. At the same time I also thought of starting an excellent school with the best academic and non-academic standards and facilities. Finally, I decided on the school.

One of my colleagues helped me put together my little dream and we started the process of recruiting a Principal and a couple of other team members. I was in my thirties when I ventured into this project – I was not very mature at that time and with much lesser experience.

I had a vision, a dream and I thought I should share it with a few responsible citizens of my city.
We invited around 600 people to present the start up and future plans of The Choice School.
The date of this meeting was fixed and as it got closer, I was getting a bit nervous. In fact I had never before faced an audience to present a dream of mine. The day of the presentation dawned,
I wondered if I should jot down my speech and just read it out, but something or the other came up and I went to the hall totally un-prepared. I decided to listen to the other speakers, gather some points from their speeches and elaborate on that.

The formal function began. We were four on the dais with me presiding over the function. My team members spoke one by one and they were all well prepared. I sat there pretty nervous, my mind wandering, totally confused, wondering what to speak. As I sat on the stage, someone from back stage came up and handed me a piece of paper. It was an anonymous note. I read it. The contents of the note read “You haven’t even completed your 12th grade education and do you think you are qualified to start a school?” I was shocked. At the same time, something in my mind said ‘take this is a challenge’. I quickly regained my composure and confidence and said, “Wow! This is a direct challenge that I have to face”. I put my fears behind me, walked up to the podium and delivered a perfect speech, explaining clearly what I had in mind and what society could expect from me.

The school started in small rented premises in the city with 3 classes, 5 teachers and a principal.
We managed to get 92 students to sign up for the first year. I worked really hard and stayed on top of things to ensure that everything went off well.

The school was inaugurated and started to roll. Two years later the school grew and we decided to move into our own campus. We purchased 14 acres of land and went to the drawing board to build on the campus. We built the Choice School on solid ground and developed infrastructure, added more class rooms each year, signed up more students, employed more teachers and thus continued growing the institution.

The challenge from that anonymous writer kept haunting me. The fact remains that I had not studied beyond 12th grade and the writer had a point. He was deliberately trying to shut me out. This is the society we live in. Imagine if I had not taken that note as a challenge and re-committed myself to go ahead and start the school. Today, The Choice School has more than 2200 students, 275 teaching and non-teaching staff, 30 buses, a state of the art performing arts theatre and sports facilities that match international specifications. All this would not have become a reality. The Choice School is known globally and has gained a reputation of its own that it deserves. I am very proud of it.
This dream of mine has enabled me to deliver what I promised society in terms of enhancement of education in my city, Cochin.

I have narrated this little story just for my readers to know that you too will face negative remarks from negative people, discouraging you in many ways, placing road blocks before the things you want to do, preventing you from taking risks and so on and so forth. I truly believe that if you have the will and the commitment, you can do anything that you put your mind to, like many successful people have done, including the Father of our Nation.

I did not succumb to the negative note I received. If I had to, it would have only increased my fear;
I would have fumbled in my speech and left a wrong impression to the audience who would not have had the confidence in sending their children to my school. However I simply converted this threat into an opportunity. My intuition told me that I must go ahead with my vision.

To do something like this, you need leadership skills and to be a perfect leader who dreams of success. The fear of failing is the biggest enemy to good leadership. Leadership is developed and not achieved in a day. A leader has to be a man of action and a person with guts to find your way up, at the same time, staying focused. Sometimes you have to influence your own conscience, keep testing your guts and simulate the things that you want to do. You will realize as you practice these little tricks, you will become a leader and you will do things that you thought you never could.

We can all do it and I hope this nation-India will one day fulfill the dreams of our great leaders by boldly, willfully and consistently removing the malaise in our system, thus creating a perfect society. By doing this, we, its people can enjoy peace and the spirit of freedom and security.
Jai hind!!

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Responses to
 Gera says:
Short, sweet, to the point, FREE-exactly as inofrmaiton should be!