STONES to Milestones

by Pramod Chandrasekhar

No Indian sportsman has ever received the kind of adulation and admiration like Sachin Tendulkar. But in 2008, he suffered a bad patch of mediocrity, and critics stridently demanded his retirement. Sachin bore these barbs stoically, focusing more on bouncing back. Then came the Mohali test where he notched up a gritty 88 runs against Australia and surpassed Brian Lara to become the highest run getter in the history of test cricket. Later, commenting on the criticism he faced during his slump season, Sachin remarked that when people threw stones at him, he converted them into milestones.

Certainly one hallmark of greatness is the ability to take criticism in stride. The masses hide from the stones, the rest get wounded, but the best derive energy from vicious personal attacks and soar so high that stones no longer cannot reach.

It is precarious to expect life to be a perpetual bed of roses. Most of us nowadays can’t even stand a mild contradiction let alone criticism. Our sensitive nature is strangling our own growth. The great Norman Vincent Peale said, “The trouble with most of us is that we’d rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism”.

The only way to avoid criticism, said the great philosopher Aristotle, is to say nothing, do nothing and be nothing. Winston Churchill, the great Prime Minister of UK during the tumultuous World War 2, said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life”.

“The trouble with most of us is that we’d rather
be ruined by praise than saved by criticism”.

The greatest heroes of the Bible were not spared of negative attacks. The teeming Israelites in the desert worried about water, and they threatened to stone their meek leader Moses. Similarly David’s trusted men, the ones who fled to him for refuge, were on the verge of stoning him. In both cases the masses were absolutely unfair and irrational. It’s true they were in an awful predicament, but they needed their godly leaders all the more; stones would never have solved the problem.

Moses rushed into the presence of God; David found strength in God.

Imagine yourself in such horrible circumstances: People, whom you have never harmed, now stalking you to inflict pain. You slip away only to find you are backed into a dead end. There is no solution this world can offer. This isn’t fiction. This is a grim reality for many of us facing the brutal side of people’s character. It is humanly impossible to absorb such toxic barbs. Only God’s miraculous power can heal and strengthen us.

It’s time now for us to turn around and smile. A positive smile will instantly disarm the weapons and reveal your godly invincibility.

And as you smile on the outside, don’t forget to be grateful on the inside. Thank God that He has helped you grow. You need those stones; how else can you build the milestones.

[The writer is a Leadership Trainer and Coach based in Hyderabad, India. He can be reached at pramodchandrasekhar@hotmail.com]

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