Graduating and Engineering: The Rules of Engagement
It’s been three years now, three amazing years filled with experiences, people and fun, three years of getting ready for the culmination, the final step, I am ready. This is one of the most important phases of my life, and for years to come, many students just like me are going to stand here, for them and for the world to know, here are the rules of engagement
I don’t hope to present a list of directives or rules, how to get yourself through is something you must find out yourself, what I am offering here is my experience and opinion what I feel means to be an engineer, the rules of engagement is for you to realise
Why am I here?
Take some time, think about day one, somewhere in the seminar hall amongst unknown faces, going through a probably boring induction process, now ask yourself “Why am I here?”. Try to answer it, because the answer may be everything you would want to know about yourself, as simple as it sounds, it is the most important question, intrinsic to every form of introspection. Well, this is the question I still haven't got an answer to yet, but in my contemplation of the three-years-ago me, I found some clues.
Were you there to graduate as an engineer, or become an engineer? Seems like an absurd question, but the essence of this question when understood gives it meaning. Don’t be here to be a ‘good’ student, just to fill in exam sheets, write assignments and get that CGPA graph skyrocketing, not doubt this what you will need, and I am not asking you to ignore that, but don’t just stop right there, an Engineer is not just CGPA, in fact an engineer is nothing about marks, a graduate is. An engineer should be measured not by his marks but the merit of being an engineer. An engineer is about solving problems, bringing change, bringing substantial change.
If at any place you stand and your presence doesn’t bring positive change there, you are failing as an Engineer. Try to do things, try to explore, find what plucks your nerves and do something about it. Exasperation will drive you, motivation will drive you, all you need to do is to start to move.
Be here to change, be here to influence. Remember you will never influence the world trying to be like it, get out of the monotony, stop being a student, start being an engineer. A degree at the end of your four years doesn’t make you and engineer, but it’s the journey to that degree that is the merit of being an engineer.
Stay away from your comfort zone.
Comfort zone is that special cozy place where you feel safe and comfortable, and nothing (potentially unpleasant) surprises you. It’s the monotone, the invisible cocoon of ignorance you have built around you. A shell you need to break out of. Yes, it’s easy to be there but if you jumped into the 4 years of graduation looking for easy, well you dived in the wrong pool. What’s the fun in easy, easy is stupid, uninnovative, easy doesn’t put you to think.
Greatness begins beyond your comfort zone. — Robin Sharma
This sentence by Robin Sharma says it all, you cannot expect to be great if you can’t leave the captivity of your comfort zone. Captive is what you are, of your own mind, procrastinating your four years will yield nothing but regret. The activity you are avoiding the most contains the biggest opportunities.
If a program you are trying to write isn’t running the way you want, and you give up, you are captivating yourself, if you see a problem and you aren’t urged to solve it, let alone the outcome of this urge, you are captivating yourself by not answering to you urge. This urge is what breaks the captivity. Become comfortable with being uncomfortable. And once you start moving away from that zone, magic happens, the first step is all you need, because the first step is magical enough to propel you ahead.
Take the first step.
The first step, any goal you set for yourself, reaching there is a series of first steps, don’t fear to take that step, grow above those fears, dream bigger than your doubts, aim for the sky and put all you have in reaching it. Hurdles, failures are bound to happen, but what you must realise that you have already failed if you don’t ever start. The three years for me were a series of opportunities, and every time I took my first step it amazed me, I was amazed by what I learned, amazed to see my potential, the real potential which often was beyond what I ever expected from myself. Yes, I failed many times, and it was amazing, every failure was a confrontation with myself, they made me sad, demotivated me at times, but somehow, something took me on my feet to take the another first step. Have faith in yourself and what you believe, and stand for it, stand for you, in the smallest of initiatives, in the smallest of acts you will build yourself into someone better. Revolutions can happen in the smallest of things, be your own revolution and take that first step.
Don’t be afraid to fail
Failure has many faces, time and again they come your way to haunt you, but every encounter makes you stronger. Every failure as I said was a confrontation with myself, the ‘me’ in reality, or as Rushabh Mehta pertinently puts it. (Article Here: Failure is The Best Teacher, Keep Learning)
Failing is nothing but reality’s way of coming into your plans.
And this confrontation is the way to know where you really stand, are you what you think you are. Yes, I acknowledge that it is absurd to talk about practicality after saying to dream bigger than doubts, but again in knowing the thin line between ‘creativity’ and ‘fantasy’ lies the essence of being an engineer. But again should you fear to cross that line? No! You shouldn’t be, what you must realise that failures will take you there, a real engineer or as I see it, a problem solver is what he is because of his mistakes and failures. If you are not failing enough, that means you are not growing enough.
Failures are perhaps the most confusing pages in the book of life, but how you take it from there, defines the climax of your story. Failures like backlogs, failed projects, relationships, learn from them and move on, just don’t be afraid. Remember, fear of failure is fear of growth.
Euphoria every day!
Carpe Diem, a phrase that comes from the Roman poet Horace, means literally “Pluck the day” or maybe “Seize the day” as known to many. For some people, Carpe diem serves as the closest thing to a philosophy of life as they’ll ever have, and it’s not very surprising. The world as we know it, pretty much runs in a cycle, like a clock, if you will, ticking and ticking until it reaches the same point again. Carpe Diem is enjoying every tick of it.
Turn every moment in Euphoria, “I have no time” this is a loser’s excuse, there are people building electric cars, building rockets that can land back on earth and be used again and trying to dig tunnels for improving transportation and not complaining about it. The only thing the don’t have time for is making petty excuses and complaining. How? Carpe Diem! They seize the day, they do, they build and create. This is what Carpe Diem means to me. If you have something to do, make sure you do it with all the dedication and motivation, find euphoria in what you do. Make it your passion and make sure you seize every minute like it’s your last.
Don’t be afraid to speak up.
Courage is probably the last and in some sense the most significant of the rules of engagement. I don’t exactly know what courage is, it’s perhaps this feeling of not knowing is one of the reasons these words of James Foley have always moved me.
I would confess that this is the part I’ll be most confused in, the rule of engagement I don’t fully understand, this in some way makes me incomplete, but then this incompleteness is why I am urged to improve and grow and learn, this incompleteness will eventually complete me. But if I had to define, I’d say courage means to stand for what you think is right.
There is only one correct moment to speak up, its Now!
Be it a doubt in class, or something you disagree with, whatever it may be, speak up and speak now. Speak up even if you are the only one in the room to disagree, speak up even if it makes you look stupid, speak up even if it makes you look bad, as long as you believe in your words stand by it. Respect yourself and speak up. Forget about the trolls, the haters, embrace the criticism. The ones who are criticised are the ones who are doing something that’s noteworthy and to many extents remarkable too. A creator who can’t voice his ideas cannot bring them to reality, A problem solver who cannot present his solution can never solve.
You stand somewhere, you stand for something, do what you believe is right, do what you believe will bring change, do it with all your might and passion.