A letter to you – how I transformed my life and my abilities
This letter was originally written for the students of a course offered by NUJS in collaboration with iPleaders by Ramanuj Mukherjee, a co-founder of iPleaders.
The mail received overwhelming response as hundreds of students wrote back to share their thoughts about success, life, education and the pursuit of their passion.
Since any law students will find the lessons and experiences shared in this mail instructive, we decided to feature it on Lawctopus. Do share what you think after reading the letter in the comments.
Over to Ramanuj.
This is Ramanuj from iPleaders. I wanted to write this email so badly that I took out my laptop in the middle of a flight.
I am on my way to Ahmedabad to deliver a few lectures at Nirma University over the next two days. I am very excited. I am very thankful to the University for giving me an opportunity to get to know the students, and most importantly, for giving me the opportunity to share my ideas with them.
I have been very lucky in the last few years. In every city I go, I make it a point to visit the nearby law colleges if time permits. I am often given an opportunity to address the senior classes.
Sometimes I am invited, at other times I even show up uninvited. At times universities or colleges even pay me to come and take a few sessions. In this way, I have visited at least 30 law colleges in the last 4 years.
Not only law colleges, but I have had the good fortune of visiting many IITs, NITs, engineering and management colleges. iPleaders even tied up with IIT Delhi to conduct workshops around Delhi/NCR in engineering colleges – under which program I and my co-founders visited at least 50 colleges.
I have conducted workshops on topics varying from Entrepreneurship, Corporate Finance, Public Speaking, Effective Leadership, How to perfect your interviewing skills, hacking your way to your dream job.
I love to share the few important lessons I learnt. I love to share the adversities I faced along the way – and how I overcame them.
Why do I spend my time like this? Moreover, why am I telling you all these things?
I was an extreme introvert at one point of time. I had many things to share with everyone – but I could not express them. When I joined NUJS at the age of 18, I was struggling with speaking, studying and writing in English as I studied in vernacular medium schools all my life until that point.
In my 1st year at NUJS, I tried my luck with debating as everyone else was in my batch. I was ranked 2nd from below in the entire University. The only person who ranked worse than me had shown up under the influence of alcohol and abused the judges. I was that bad at public speaking.
In my 2nd year in NUJS, I tried mooting. I toiled for days and produced good quality research. When my turn to speak in the oral rounds came, I was told by judges that they could not understand any of the arguments I was putting forth.
When I finally managed to explain a certain argument, they thought I was misleading them by lying in the court – and I could not establish that I was correct.
I was thrown out of the court. Some people sympathised saying that such harsh treatment was not needed – but it made me even more angry and sad. I was pathetic in that court. I thought to myself – perhaps this is not for me.
There was something wrong with me. I just could not express things as artfully as my classmates could. I was socially awkward. My worst nightmare was to try and express myself – only to realise that people are laughing at me.
Even if they didn’t – I would be worried that they will judge me, and wondered what they would say behind my back.
I felt like there is a glass wall between me and the rest of the world. I just didn’t know how to get heard by the people on the other side of the glass. I really, really wanted to be a good speaker, and share my ideas with everyone. I wanted to inspire people to live exceptional lives.
I wanted to share the many skills I was mastering. I wanted to lead, I wanted to be at the forefront of action – and all of it seemed impossible without learning to be effective at public speaking.
I was studying in a law school – where everyone is expected to be articulate and persuasive – and there I was, helplessly struggling to put across even relatively simple ideas.
Then it happened one day – I stumbled on a way. I found an opportunity to work on something I am deeply passionate about and it changed my life.
I had topped a law entrance exam for NUJS (CLAT was to be established many years later) – and was a very good at coming up with innovative ways to solve problems quicker and with higher accuracy rate.
I had developed ways to study faster and retain more than the most students would imagine possible. When one of my teachers was starting up a new law entrance coaching for a national brand a couple of years later – he invited me to take some sessions with law entrance aspirants.
And then I got the first taste of teaching. Everything changed from there. I found my expression in teaching. This was not about talking to strangers to prove a point or winning an argument.
I was teaching students I identified with. People who I wanted to succeed. I would give my best every time, and then find that I can do even more. Sometimes the classes will go well beyond the designated 2 hours, and students will call home to tell that they will be late.
I was discovering the wonders of law – and I shared that excitement with my students. Soon I realized that it was more important to inspire them about studying law and going to the law school rather than teaching them this or that.
If they are properly motivated they did the rest themselves, with a little help. A person who was not motivated, no matter how intelligent – hardly stood a chance.
Teaching was not a way to make money or pursuit of success – it was my true passion. I found peace of mind, self-expression and power in teaching, and it transformed me.
In 2013, NUJS invited me to teach public speaking to Human Rights lawyers in a summer school jointly organized with NLSIU. The same me that could barely connect with people around, was invited by several organizations to conduct sessions on leadership.
What happened to me? What transformation took place in between?
More than whatever I taught, I learned a lot from the experience of teaching. For instance, I learned to motivate myself to the point of obsession about things that I really wanted to happen in my life. Over time, I have known myself better. I have faced my fears and claimed victory on them. Of course, the process goes on. I have been walking that path which started with a break to teach a few young kids to crack law entrance tests.
All of what I do today – iPleaders, various courses, blogging, SuperLawyer, other projects I won’t talk about yet, my conversations with some of you, even this email – all of it has been a journey to face my fears, claim victory over my self-doubt and understand myself better.
That may or may not make any sense to you right now, but I will leave it at that. This email is not about all the lessons I learnt in life. I would cut short my story here and come straight to the point.
I just want to share with you – that if I found my true expression through pursuit of passion, you can too. However, you must take decisions and action in your life based on your real passion.
Passionate pursuit of our dreams is the key to living an extraordinary life. Life becomes magic when we start following our passion fearlessly – and you deserve nothing less.
I also want to share with you the wonderful gift of teaching. Teaching is an incredible two edged sword. It cuts both ways. When you really teach another person any skill, your mastery becomes better than ever.
You don’t lose exclusivity by sharing knowledge and skill. If you share, and especially if you teach, knowledge, skill and influence tend to multiply. This can take your life to a whole new level.
I am not talking about the teaching you may have experiences and resented in classrooms many times. I am talking about the magical moments in which learning takes place.
I am talking about the special relationships where one person takes a stance for the success and intellectual growth of another person. Share what you learn, and teach if you can. It is the greatest shortcut to mastery I have ever known. We all have a teacher inside us – discover the one inside you, and nurture.
I will be teaching a few bright young law students tomorrow morning – and I know I will learn more than I will teach. It’s the same in every college and University I go to. I will take away a lot more energy than what I will expend.
Still, there is one thing that bothers me. Everywhere I go, I see bright minds eclipsed by expectations of other people. People not pursuing their passion, but narrow goals others defined for them.
People not being themselves as they feel powerless and try to look good in front of other people. Trying to look good by standards of other people leave us stranded as we cannot express ourselves with full autonomy.
Very often I encounter a tremendous lack of true motivation in many young people I meet. Exam scores, internships, jobs, success – chased like a rat race – people going through the motions without really coming from a place of passion or finding any satisfaction.
Even when they succeed, they do not feel any fulfilment, but immediately find something else to chase. When they don’t succeed, they write themselves off or work on the race harder. It just makes me wonder what they could do if they followed their true passion.
Are you just going through the motions of what is meant to be success – or are you really doing what you are doing today from a place of passion? Are you really motivated, or are you doing what you are doing because you are supposed to do it?
Are you here to fulfil someone else’s unfulfilled ambitions? What if you did follow your own dreams? What could become possible if you pushed yourself out of the comfort zone?
If you don’t know what is your passion – find it. Try out things till you find it. Meet extraordinary people, visit extraordinary places and attach yourself with extraordinary causes. Play big in life. Take big risks in the face of fear of failure.
Take note when you are stuck in a rut, or just going around in circles. When you are aware that there is something wrong – it is far easier to find a way. Most people you know will never admit that there is something missing in their lives anyway, and it will prevent them from making any progress. You don’t have to be one of those people.
If you have read this mail till here, I thank you for your patience. It means a lot to be able to share what I feel about life and success with you.
I wish you all the success in life, and you will always find me willing to help in every way I can in the path of your success that you will design.
You will design it because no one else really knows what success means in your life. It is your biggest responsibility – to imagine what your success looks like. Then share it with people who care about you – and that’s how you begin that journey.
If you feel that this mail can help a friend or two, do share it with them. It may make a difference to them.
I will look forward to your replies. All the best!