He was nothing less than extraordinary. It’s been more than a decade that I last saw him, and in all these years I have not come across a more talented person than him. And the best part is, he makes talent look simple, and not complicated.
He topped the University in MBA and got the gold medal. He set a record of 5/5 CGPA. But strangely, I never saw him reading the books. He was early to bed. You can always find him chatting up with friends.
He did not seem to have any special skills per say be it communication, or leadership or any great knowledge of management, or any super abilities.
In fact he had several limitations. He had only one kidney because he donated the other to sister to save her life. He was thin and frail. He was from a small town, financially weak which forced him to do all kinds of odd jobs to support his family and education of his siblings.
Back then I wished I had a crystal ball or a magic mirror to see how he was able to accomplish so much without sweating a bit. Fortunately now, my recruitment experience and opportunity to observe talent at close quarters has helped me to solve this riddle.
All along he possessed certain traits which were sublime yet so powerful in defining the success.
For instance he had extreme customer service orientation. No matter what hour of the day or night, whether you ask or at times even unasked he would help people around him. He did this to the extremes that you would wonder that how can someone sacrifice his/her own pleasures and comfort to help people without expecting anything in return. There was no way he could turn a blind eye to something he could fix, or someone who needed support. He did this as a teller at ANZ Grindlayz bank and he did as a student doing MBA, and now he is doing it as a store clerk at a charitable trust.
The second trait he possessed was the ability to view things from multiple perspectives and this gave him the great ability to connect with people around him and they in turn felt they could relate to him. To do this he used to go out of his way to understand what people feel rather then what they say. This gave him the ability to understand what are the needs, aspirations, fears, and dreams of people around him and modify his conversations and context accordingly. He was a great listener and equally good communicator. You don’t have to tell him what you expect of him, he has this uncanny ability to decipher that by himself. In fact every one that knows him would feel that they are his best friends.
He was a great personalizer too. He could in a split second sound intellectual and ordinary. He would sound philosophical and practical. Depending on what the other person liked most or needed most he could morph himself. He always knew your hot buttons, he always knew how to get you worked up. But he always used this knowledge not for his personal gains but to help you understand yourself better. This way he could make people know themselves and change themselves.
He was extremely busy guy. He would attend the sick guys in the hostel, you would find him serving lunch in the dining hall, practicing the lines for the drama, helping weak students understand the basic concepts of accounting. He would be busy meditating, gardening, repairing, playing, and all sorts of “ing” forms. I have never seen him complaining that he is tired or exhausted. Mind you, he has only one kidney but yet he has never allowed that as an excuse to avoid physical strain. For him being busy is not about achieving, but it was more about contributing. But yet, in his desire to contribute he could accomplish so many grand things that when you add up everything his achievements are phenomenal.
He was a great initiator and stimulator too. There were so many activities he started during our college days. Cultural activities, competitions, social work, spiritual congregations are just a few to name. His energy was contagious. He was always cheerful, happy and positive. And he used to spot the good things about others and compliment them and make them feel better. In way he used to reinforce the good habits and attitudes in other people so that the individuals take pride in what they do and keep doing it.
One last trait that I would like to mention is his focus. Probably this trait is the one which has allowed him to be the jack of all and master of fun. In spite of spending all his time for the sake of others and leaving literally no time himself he still was able to top the university and this was because he had extreme focus on his goals. Every day he used to progress a bit towards his goal, never rushing and hurrying but never stopping in that path either. Since he knows he has less time at his disposal, whatever time he had he focused all his senses, every nerve every atom of his being in to the task at hand. He had a photographic memory, critical thinking coupled with practical application, creativity, and above all courage to be different and to be selfless.
This individual is now working for a charitable organization with minimal pay. Had he been in corporate world he would have been an accomplished executive with a fat pay check. But he choose to be different as his definition of success was different. Like the famous mathematician Ramanujam, this friend of mine too, can learn everything about the corporate world by extrapolating whatever he already knows and can know from his limited exposure to the external world. That I feel is talent. Its inherent, innate and inseparable.