A young entrepreneur-writer, Jitesh Khanna talks about inspiration and leadership in this latest episode of WonPod Changemakers series.
Wonderpublish ‘Changemakers’ series is an attempt to acknowledge the contribution of individuals who are changing the face of education, inspiration and leadership in India.
Jitesh Khanna is an effective communicator and a motivator, who identifies and leverage assets in teammates to reach organisational goals. He considers himself a relentless optimist who doesn’t believe in failure, only feedback. He is also pretty big on fitness and nutrition. Jitesh Khanna has been associated with a world-renowned Buddhist NGO for more than a decade. He believes in adding value to society by getting involved in many social programs and youth development activities. He was featured on CNBC Awaaz Entrepreneur programme and was a chief guest at the inauguration of a new CSR funded facility in a government school.
Here is the excerpt from the recent interview Wonderpublish recently conducted with Jitesh Khanna:
Q. 1: As you say, you enjoy identifying and leveraging assets in teammates. How do you gauge potential in people?
Ans- Every human life has immense unique potential. What a true leader does is to first of all get rid of his own ego. And the moment you get rid of your ego, you start looking at people the right way. You are able to see the worth of other people. As a leader, you have to identify the true potential in people. And that kind of wisdom comes from experience, working with great people and working on yourself rigorously. And that is when you are able to identify the basic qualities of people and able to nurture it.
Q. 2: Many people look up to you when you are in a leadership position. How do you manage so many expectations at the same time? And also since you are a prolific speaker, can you tell us how to tackle the fear of public speaking?
Ans- We human beings are born multifaceted. Our limitations stem from our mindset. The moment you are able to cross that mental barrier, you are able to do anything.
About speaking, initially, I was an extremely nervous person. I would go tongue-tied. But my mentors made me realise that people will forget your mistakes, they will remember the amazing stuff you said. So after that, within a few public speaking sessions, I started speaking better and better. So if today you can’t speak well, it doesn’t mean you can’t speak well all your life. You can push yourself and get rid of your fear. And the moment that fear goes away, it becomes muscle memory. You can go in front of a wide audience and you can speak your heart out.
The second most important aspect of public speaking is that you have to be well informed. It is extremely important that you learn to love reading. And when you acquire good knowledge, practice it.
Q. 3: How do you look at this time in terms of education?
Ans- A school is not just about going there and attending classes, it’s about human interaction. It’s about human skills and developing healthy physiology and psychology which ultimately shapes your character. And you can’t do that staying at home. Hence going back to schools is very important.
But having said that, schools have also realised that a lot of stuff can be done online. So what I see in the future is a more hybrid form of education where most of the classes would happen offline but some of the subjects will be taken care online too.
Q. 4: You have also been around many educators and teachers, tell us what makes an educationist perfect?
Ans- You need to have compassion for children. A lot of children come from dysfunctional families and when they go to schools apart from education what they need is a human touch, a sense of belonging, a sense of being nurtured. In my experience, India has one of the most skilled sets of educators but what we really need is a humanistic education.
And there has to be an element of joy in the study as well which is usually missing in schools. Kids are very scared of going in front of their teachers. If education becomes fun in India, it’s going to be a great great thing.
Q. 5: You say poetry is at the heart of everything you do. So is there any connection between poetry and success in life?
Ans- The consciousness within us attracts everything in our life. And poetry is one of the beautiful ways of looking at life. I like Sufi poetry the best. It has two sides to it, one is of subcontinent origin and the other one is of Persian origin. You find the perfect mix of practicality and the mystical side of life in Sufi Persian poetry.
Like Rumi in one of the poems says, ‘If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?’ Now that is very good for managers and the people who are running a business. So the more you face your challenges, your fears and your problems the more you grow as a human being.
Q. 6: What kind of innovations you expect to see in education in the future?
Ans- Our education system is terribly competitive. And now when I look at IITs and IIMs, I find them becoming more and more elitist. So I want that level of quality education given to every child of India. And when that starts happening, you will not see any crime in the society, instead, you’ll see the society becoming more compassionate and happier, because education not only gives you a job, it also expands your mind which is more important. So in future, I want to see quality education absolutely democratised for everyone.
Q. 7: You are also writing a book. Can you tell us about that?
Ans- I write a lot of quotes. So this is going to be a book of quotes. It will have part of my paintings and sketches as well. I do abstract paintings. So it will be about life, philosophy and spirituality. So it’s basically about how I look at life. Everybody has their own way of looking at life, so this is my point of view.
Q. 8: Should schools make more space for innovation now or should they just think of survival?
Ans- There are many schools which are struggling very hard to survive this pandemic. So we have to see the practical side of the things. So firstly, focus on saving the institutions. And the second aspect would be to learn from this pandemic and make yourself future-ready. There might be more pandemics in the future, we never know. So we’ll have to be well prepared for that.
I think any good preparation is when you start something and you think about 50 years in advance. So they have to adapt to the hybrid system.
Watch the entire conversation here or listen to it on Spotify:
Know more about Jitesh Khanna here