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10 Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Life Lessons: Free Yourself From Self Limiting Beliefs by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.
He’s a statesman, scientist, and poet.
He’s the former President of India, and above all, he walks the talk.
He’s Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.
We will cover:
Let’s get right into it.
Born on the 15th of October 1931 in Rameswaram, Pamban Island in the then Madras Presidency in India was Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam or simply Abdul Kalam in popular culture.
With a boat owner and a local Imam for a father and a humble housewife for a mother, Abdul came from a fairly wealthy ancestry.
Unfortunately for him…
These riches weren’t able to reach his generation and he grew up in poor conditions.
Being the youngest little man of the family with 4 brothers and 1 sister to boot, Kalam didn’t start as a genius.
As a matter of fact, he only had average grades, just like you and me (unless, of course, if you’re a genius).
But his curiosity and interest in his subjects, most particularly mathematics (yikes!), gave him the opportunity to continue studying to college through scholarship.
Kalam finally graduated with a degree in Physics in 1954 and man was unstoppable since then.
After graduating, he wasted no time and was able to work in the Aeronautical Development Establishment of the Defense Research and Development Organization while also being a member of the Indian National Committee for Space Research!
He was still a baby but young man was already designing hovercrafts!
Between the 1960s to 1970s, Kalam worked with satellites and ballistic missiles. Quite badass, if you ask me.
By 1980s, he was fast becoming a legend with his groundbreaking studies and research and even prompted the government to start an advanced missile program under his directorship!
This missile affair also became his stepping stone in the world of politics. From July 1992 to December 1999, Kalam served as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister and Secretary of Defence Research and Development Organization.
And he’s not quite done yet.
The popular scientist also served as the Chief Project Coordinator for the Pohkran-II Nuclear Tests. This period gave Kalam much press exposure, earning him the people’s admiration and making him the country’s best known nuclear scientist.
But the best is yet to come…
…because in 2002, Abdul Kalam became India’s 11th president, the 3rd Indian president to be honored with a Bharat Ratna, and the first scientist and bachelor to ever occupy the Rashtrapati Bhawan or the President’s residence.
From country’s best nuclear scientist to the “People’s president…”
Kalam was able to gain his people’s hearts within his whole term and it’s so fruitful that he even considered running for president again.
After his presidency, Kalam went back to his life of studies and academics by being a visiting professor, a chancellor and an honorary fellow of several institutes.
On the 27th of July 2015, the much beloved scientist collapsed just 5 minutes into his lecture in Shillong. He was declared dead of a sudden cardiac arrest one hour later.
Kalam’s remains were received by the president, vice president and other state dignitaries and he was given a hero’s burial.
1. Have A Dream
On our first lesson is also the very first and only quality that Kalam had and held on to when he had nothing but brains and, well…dreams.
In one of his lectures, a fourth-grader sheepishly asked the wise old man how did he “become so great?”
The ex-president and popular scientist laughed as if it was a joke and still can’t believe he’s filthy famous and said:
“How did I become so great? That’s the question. What’s your dream in life? How do you become a singer? I personally believe you must have a dream. You must say, “I must have a dream…I must continuously acquire knowledge, hard work, and perseverance. Not afraid of problems. With that, you’ll be successful. Okay?”
Um, okay, sir.
But in all seriousness, how a child living in poverty could possibly afford to go to college and climb up the ranks without anybody’s help? Kalam had nothing but his dreams. He could’ve gone to a more practical course in college and earn quick bucks after but he’s so focused and motivated because of his dream.
That’s where his wise words make sense. Dreams will always be enough to move someone into action and reach his dreams, never afraid of problems just like what he told the sparkly-eyed little girl.
2. Make Somebody’s Life Happier
One of the secrets to a successful life, according to one of India’s most successful men ever, is not to satisfy yourself first but other people instead.
Uh, but how does that work?
Let’s hear it from the master himself.
“See, I have a feeling. Whenever I give something, I feel happy. You see, this is you trying. That whatever you may have, knowledge, a better economy, or kind words… So if you use that and make somebody’s life happy, so that you are giving and their life’s happy (sic)…that’s the best thing a human being can think of. With that, we’ll have a conflict-free world.”
Okay, so not every one of us may have world peace as the number one goal in life, but helping others and making their lives a little better still has its rewards!
As Kalam said, making others happy can make you happy too. It releases those happy feelings that pushes a person to do better in life.
Aside from the increased happy hormones and motivation, you’re also gaining more friends and allies along the way and who knows when these connections will come in handy, right?
3. Break The Limits Of Imagination
From his early childhood to his student days and finally, his idealist young adult years, Kalam showed an incredibly imaginative and innovative mind that’s ready to change the face of Science in his country.
Remember? Kalam wasn’t your usual smarty-pants classmate who excelled in recitations and exams. His grades were average just like the average student. But guess who got in the Aeronautical Development Establishment after graduation?
You’ve guessed it.
The key, according to India’s best nuclear scientist, is breaking the limits of your imagination.
Have you ever heard the phrase “Your mind is a universe and the possibilities are endless”?
Well, in case you’re not convinced, just listen from Kalam himself.
“History has proven that those who dare to imagine the impossible are the ones who break all human limitations in every field of human endeavor, whether science, medicine, sports, arts, or technology. The names of the people I listed just now are the names who imagined the impossible. They’re engraved in our history. By breaking the limits of their imagination, they changed the world. You take Newton; you take Einstein; you take Chandrasekhar. Thereby breaking the limits of their immediate imagination; they changed the world.”
4. Be The Captain Of The Problem
Being a scientist, it’s not surprising that Kalam was a natural problem-solver.
While none of us are real scientists…
…you don’t have to be one to be able to handle both successes and failures wisely.
This is a skill that can see you through many disappointments in life. If Kalam didn’t know how to be the captain of his problems and take the reins into his hands, we would probably not know him today and he would probably not be able to even go to college.
Life is a constant battle and if you can’t focus, take a breather, and handle your problems and failures wisely, you’ll certainly be defeated.
“We should know how to handle – not only how to handle success but also how to handle failures. Particularly, you are in the managing environment. I want young people to understand how to manage failure because any task you do, you have to come across problems. (sic)Problems should not become the captain of the individual or the project chief. The project chief should become the captain of the problems, defeat the problems, and succeed.”
5. Imagine The Outcome
Now we’re done dreaming and it’s time for visualizing the outcome.
Abdul Kalam emphasized the importance of imagining the outcome or knowing your goal before taking action.
“If you want to be discoverers, if you’re going to be innovators, I will give you what type of character you must have. Invention and discoveries have emanated from creative minds that have been continually working and imaging (sic) the outcome. The telephone (Alexander Graham Bell), he imagined the outcome. Imagine the outcome in your mind with imaging and constant effort. All the forces of the universe work for that inspired mind, thereby leading to invention and discoveries.”
Great inventors and innovators weren’t great for no reason.
They imagined the outcome that they wanted to achieve and this helped them form the map to their end goal.
This quality shows a person’s determination in working for his dreams and as sir Kalam said, the universe itself will work for that driven and inspired mind.
6. Be Yourself
Old as he was, you’d think this gentle guy wouldn’t know anything about the youth today.
But man, we’re all wrong.
Because as he proved in an interview, Kalam understood the youths of today and it’s impressive it gave us goosebumps!
“I learn from the youth of 11 million people. I learned every youth wants to be unique. That is you, but the world around you is doing its best day and night to make you just like everybody else. Now, the question is whether you want to be you or everybody else? Being like everybody else is convenient at first glance but not satisfying in the long vision. The challenge, therefore, my young friends, is that you have to fight the hardest battle any human being can ever imagine fighting and never stopping fighting until you arrive at your destined place. That is the unique you.”
Kalam recognized one of this generation’s greatest moles and he’s reminding us not to be carried away by the superficial trends and whatnot.
As a matter of fact…
If you’ll look at today’s most popular personalities, it’s always the odd ones out now that are getting their spotlights.
People will always love genuinity and realness.
You can never go wrong with being you.
7. Knowledge Makes You Great
Sure, Steve Jobs may not have graduated from college and most of our Hollywood idols are not degree holders, but that doesn’t necessarily suggest that we should ditch knowledge altogether.
When Kalam famously said that knowledge makes you great, he’s not talking about bookish and academic knowledge.
He’s talking about striving to learn your craft and improve every day.
Let me tell you something…
Dreams and dreams alone won’t get you anywhere but, well, your dreams.
But taking action and gaining knowledge about your dream profession or life makes everything possible.
A shy girl can be an actress and an undergraduate can always be a CEO of a company if they’re armed with great knowledge.
But enough of this. Let’s hear it from the master himself.
“Learning gives creativity. Creativity leads to thinking. Thinking provides knowledge. Knowledge makes you great”.
8. Shape Dreams
Abdul Kalam is a man of many titles. He’s served as the president of his country, he’s also an author, a scientist, a professor, and an aerospace engineer.
But guess what?
His most favorite title and occupation of all is being a teacher.
Apparently, the wise man found joy in imparting his lifelong knowledge and wisdom to the younger generation and got satisfaction every time one of his underlings became successful. More successful than him, the better.
In an interview, Kalam shared how this generosity sprang from a lovely experience with his own teacher as a child.
“You know I had a teacher when I was a young boy, a 10-year old boy. The second world war was going on. At that time, I used to see my science teacher in the 5th class. We used to see the radiation of knowledge from him when he entered the classroom. I see the radiation of purity of life in the way he taught.
My dream has shaped what should be my way of life. He is the person, the teacher, that gave me the vision of my life when I was a young fellow. A teacher has a fantastic opportunity to enrich their minds and give young people dreams and nurture them. They will become great human beings – sometimes even better than the teacher. Like what I’m doing, I’m a professor. I can also research. Young researchers will be working with me. That’s a great pleasure when they get a Ph.D.”
This only goes to show that whatever you give will be what you sow. Kalam didn’t only gain success but also the love from his people.
9. Have Integrity
Aside from his very humble beginnings, which many people were able to relate to, Kalam was also loved by his people- president or not- all thanks to his leadership skills.
And by leadership skills…
…we don’t mean organization and technical skills.
It refers to the heart that a leader puts into his work in an effort to personally get to know his people and create an unbreakable bond with them.
Kalam wasn’t only bookishly intelligent but also practically and emotionally smart as well.
In an interview, the “People’s President” emphasized the importance of keeping one’s integrity in tact, privately and publicly.
“Every action of the leader should be transparent. A leader should work with integrity and succeed with integrity. Since you asked a question, I believe a president has to be continuously in touch with the people. Rashford, where I became the people’s beloved – it became the People’s Power, so I traveled into the whole state, cutting across hill deserts and sea. I was in touch with millions and millions of people.”
Leader or not, working with other people from different walks of life will be inevitable for us especially if you’re hustling to reach your goals.
It’s important to always work with integrity and most of all, build a good connection with the people because people will, most often than not, mean power too.
10. Be Righteous
While antagonists in movies sure look quite cool in their vile and slilck ways, there’s always an unmistakable beauty in righteousness.
And who can prove it better than the much beloved scientist, poet, and statesman, Abdul Kalam?
In his European Union speech, Abdul was able to steer the spotlights into his beloved India by turning all heads in the room with his powerful speech.
Talking about the forgotten importance of righteousness in world peace, he concluded his speed beautifuly with these words:
“In India, we say, “When there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in character… When there is beauty in character, there is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home, there is an order in the nation. When there is an order in the nation, there is peace in the world.”
Just when you though righteousness is way out of the trend today, this scientist comes and proves you word by world how an individual’s goodness can singlehandedly change the world.
Makes you want to be a good person altogether, eh?
Conclusion: Abdul Kalam Life Lessons
In the midst of this tricky and difficult world, it’s certainly a breath of fresh air to hear of people as radiant in spirit as Abdul Kalam.
We still can’t get over how he was able to work his way from the poverty of his childhood to the ranks of government officials and scientists.
It’s still nice knowing there will always be hope for everyone and the world.
What’s your favorite lesson from the Missile Man?
Let us know in the comments or tweet us today. We’d love to hear from you.
If you want to know more about this dynamic scientist statesman, visit Abdul Kalam’s bio page in BounceMojo.
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