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“Dad! I can’t do it! It is a very tough competition and I don’t have the confidence to compete with such intelligent students. It is really an impossible task for me dad,” Kashif answered emotionally when his father asked him to take part in a speech competition at school.

“Of course not! It isn’t a tough competition, you are talented too and you do have the confidence to do well. Just start the preparation from today. Just give it a try,” dad assured him as he patted Kashif’s head affectionately.

“But dad, they are tough competitors and earlier they had competed very well in the essay writing competition. They are all position holders of our school. So I know that I can’t perform as well as them,” Kashif said with a sad tone.

“It’s okay. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get a prize but at least you must give it a try first. Actually, these students are from your own school, not another planet, but have you thought of why they are successful? Kashif, everyone has got many talents which need to be discovered, nurtured and brought to the front. Just give this speech competition a try and you may discover hidden talents within you and end up doing better than you think,” dad reasoned with him nicely.

After listening to these words, Kashif became emotional, but it was clear that he was still not getting the real picture about what a competition is all about.

So dad continued, “My dear son, do you know why your teachers are making such tough tasks for students in the shape of writing, presentation and speech competitions in the school?”

“Dad, I think that they just want students to take part in these activities, nothing else, and there is no advantage from these competitions. And instead of motivating the students, they just lead to disappointment for the rest of the students who don’t win. And it is also a waste of time,” Kashif replied dejectedly.

“No, no, my son! They are not trying to disappoint anyone or waste their time. This is all to motivate students towards success. It is the power of the competition that makes everybody achieve success in this world since competitions play an important role in motivating students to perform better. It gives them the desire to win something special. The world is competitive, where everybody is busy competing with others in order to achieve success. These activities provide a great platform to use and display the knowledge and skills a person has, and to use these experiences to become successful in other things too,” dad explained to Kashif.

“Dad, I think we can be winners when we get good marks in exams, then what is the need of competitions? They are just adding to the troubles of students, aren’t they?” Kashif asked.

“Try to understand what I am saying. Competitions motivate us to achieve our goals. It doesn’t just create winners or success stories, it also builds strong personalities, resilience and determination and its journey is a process, not an endpoint of life. The process of a competition can leave tremendous imprints on students’ resume, which provide the proof of the skills they possess and motivates and encourages them towards achievements. Without competition, nobody improves.

“Competition creates a feeling of excitement which leads us towards success,” Kashif’s father explained.

Finally his father’s words made sense to Kashif. He started the preparation for the speech competition and practiced the speech every day. When the competition day arrived, all the participations were ready to deliver their speeches and everyone’s target was to be best. It was Kashif’s first experience of being on a stage for any competition. When he was called for the speech, everybody encouraged him with cheers and clapping. When he started his speech, everybody was surprised at his heart-touching speech and after he finished, Kashif could hear a lot of applause.

When the names of the winners were announced, Kashif was surprised and excited to hear that he had bagged the first prize! When he went on the stage to receive his prize, he felt very proud and happy.

“Yippee! Dad! I got the first prize today!” Kashif excitedly shouted when he arrived home that day. “Now I have got the real picture of what a competition is all about – to motivate us to give our best and achieve success. Dad, you have really opened my eyes to look beyond the surface. Now I have realised that everybody has talents and can get success if they just try.”

“This is what I wanted you to understand. Such activities are to bring out our inner talent and show it to the world,” dad happily answered as he hugged his son with pride.

Published in Dawn, Young World, May 13th, 2017

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