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Flipping the light switch – every day, every morning , every time.

Ankur Bora

When I grew up , I always wanted to be the best. In high school I wanted to be the best runner , in college the best football player , in University the leader of a best company in the world. I had big dreams , I wanted to be successful , I wanted to be the best until I encountered the question –“ Do you know what the best is?”. Friends, it was posed to me by our beloved high school English teacher. He had a profound influence on me. A man of letters and a well-read person he used to regale us with the childhood stories of Abraham Lincoln , Mahatma Gandhi , and Isaac Newton as well as tales from the Iliad and the Odyssey and the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

My beloved High School Teacher Rohit Bezbaruah

One day he was narrating us the story of warrior prince Arjuna. Arjuna, his brothers, and his cousins were asked by their teacher Drona to appear for a test to determine who was the best archer. The boys gathered by the woodland with their bows and arrows. Across a stream, Drona set up a small wooden bird in a tree. The winner of the competition would be the one who could strike the eye of the bird. As the boys came to take the shot, Drona gestured for them to pause and then pointing to the target he asked each one of them a question. “What do you see?'' Arjuna's eldest brother was the first and he replied, "I see the stream, the wooden bird, the tree, its branches, and other birds." He was immediately disqualified. Everyone else who followed also replied similarly to Dron’s question : “I see the stream , tree, branches, and the bird”. Everyone was disqualified; none were allowed to take the shot. Then came Arjuna, and when he was asked “What do you see?'‘, without taking his eye off the target , he replied “Oh master, I see the eye of the bird”. Drona smiled and Arjuna took the shot. The arrow sprang from the bow straight into the bird’s eye and the bird fell with a loud thud. Friends, when the story was completed, my teacher asked the class, “Can any of you tell me why Arjuna succeeded while others failed?” I slowly raised my hand and answered, “Because, only Arjuna possessed the focus attention, and concentration.” My teacher patted me on the back, “My son, you can achieve any goal you set yourself to if you also possess these qualities.”

I always felt drawn back to him as pendulum to its fulcrum, and thus many years later when I was a senior completing my Computer Science and Engineering degree, I went to visit my former teacher during spring break. He was at his desk and smiled broadly when he saw me. He inquired about my career plans and what I wanted to do next. I began telling him about Bill Gates, how he upended the world by bringing Computers into everyone’s home and how he was changing the world. My teacher was unimpressed. Even though he was supportive and encouraging, he was also a direct and no-nonsense man. When I stopped, he leaned forward, looked straight into my eyes, and asked, “what do you want to do in your life?” Much to my surprise , I replied, “I want to be the best.” Brining my flight of fancy to ground, he asked. “Do you know what the best is?” I sat in silence, I had no answer , I realized I didn’t know. As we were talking, the gathering thunderheads broke into storm, the electricity flickered and went out leaving the room in total darkness. My teacher found a candle and lit it up with a match. Pointing to the matchbox he said, “You just need a single spark to light a candle, but to be exceptional you have to light it again and again.” It was truly a lightbulb moment –If I wanted to be successful I needed to put in the hard work and like flipping a light switch, I needed to take that decision every day, every morning , every time.

Almost one decade later, when I moved to the United States, I received the marvelous news I had been waiting for since my Engineering days– I was shortlisted by Microsoft. I was specially flown in to Microsoft’s headquarters at Redmond for the final interview round; I was thrilled. The interview began and I was making satisfactory progress until I encountered the question put to me by the panel chair, “We have shortlisted two candidates including you but there is only one position. Mr. Bora , why should we hire you over the other candidate?” I spent a minute thinking about it. Then I stood up, and walked around the desk to the light switch on the wall behind. I turned it off. For one second, we were in darkness. Then I switch the light back on. I began to address the interview panel “I am better than the other candidate because I strive to be the best and like flipping the light switch, I make the decision every day, every morning, every time”. Friends, the Interview panel liked my answer, and I was hired by Microsoft.

To excel in life, you need to constantly renew your commitment - plain and simple. Friends, if you want to be the best salesman or the best teacher or the best doctor or the best speaker , you can never miss a day. Being the best is a simple decision, but like a light switch you must flip it every day, every morning, every time, - again and again, again and again, again and again. Friends, no matter what you are doing, make the decision every day, commit to it, stay true to it, and you will be the best!

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By Michael D. Levy

This journey in Toastmasters started in the fall of 2018. I am proud to be a charter member of Grand Orators Toastmasters Club and member of Out on the Town Toastmasters. Look at Toastmasters as an opportunity for yourself. Open the door to new possibilities. Learn about yourself and discover your potential! Toastmasters has positively changed my outlook on life and can for you too! In Toastmasters you will learn how to run meetings, discuss topics on the fly and enjoy long lasting friendships. It is the best training for your career you can get. Take that leap of faith and join in! I am a graduate of Texas A&M University with a B.S in Recreation Administration.

Michael D. Levy

Webmaster | District 25 Toastmasters

President, Grand Orators Toastmasters

Additional Evaluation

Kailash Nautiyal , Thumps Up Toastmasters

As usual your speech was superb adding much needed lofty values to life, focused, well conceived creative actions, commitments and accomplishments. Morning hours, with all pervasive solitude, are the best happy hours, provide basic stimulant for self retrospection, concentration to set the best purpose, goals and action plans. The key elements to make life beautiful is to keep yourself off and on and not go by the professional degrees, but by the use of knowledge that you own, process and create.


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