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Are we too risk-conscious these days?

“I have this brilliant new idea! I believe it could change the way we live our lives, revolutionize the order of the society, make lives better!” popped a thought in my mind, “This just wouldn’t make lives better, people would be happier! This might be it! I could be famous, and probably rich! I will be respectable, honored all around the world! But it’s the good my idea will do for the world, for humanity that fascinates me more” We all might have had a similar thought to the one I had, but it was the fear of failure and embarrassment that probably kept us away from bringing it to reality, fulfilling our wishes, desires, dreams… Well with every great idea, there’s always that risk of failure associated.

It-Wont-Work-OutI have a friend, he really crushed on a girl, but feared approaching her, talking to her, expressing that to her… He was not shy, no, not at all, he just feared the risk of rejection. Another friend wished to be a member of the school’s student council, but the fear of the risk of rejection kept her away from applying for the post. “I just get too depressed,” she said, “if I am ever rejected.” She had given up, accepted defeat even before trying.

Successful are those people who had a vision or a dream, overlooked the risk of failure and strived on towards their goal and achieved it. We are indeed too risk conscious these days. It is probably a natural instinct, a defense mechanism that keeps us from things our subconscious mind presumes may be harmful for us; anything out of the ordinary. Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Inc., founded the company is his parents’ garage. Years later he was fired from the company he created, but started NeXT, another computer company, because he just loved what he did, he had a passion for his work; the risk of failure that people fear was a bitter reality for him, yet he started fresh and eventually got back into and took Apple to the heights he had aimed for. He took risks, big risks, but in the end, it was all worth it.

Steve Jobs commented on this in his famous speech at the commencement at Stanford University, when he stated about getting fired from Apple:

“The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

Assessing the risks before we do something grand is a really good and helpful idea. It gives us an insight into what might be at stake. But is the fear of the associated risks keeping us behind?

Children often say any and everything that comes to their minds, they never hesitate; they would ask questions or pass comments that might otherwise be considered inappropriate, indecent, improper, or even blasphemous by an adult. But does that bring about any harm to that child? No! Well, even I used to ask radical, spontaneous questions as a child, and adults sometimes had a hard time answering them, or choosing the right words to answer them in an appropriate manner. Children do this because they do not associate any risk of embarrassment, risk of being stereotyped, risk of being labeled by the society. That, probably, is one of the reason why children are able to get things done the way they want.

Dare-to-FailBeing risk conscious may be a good thing at times; before investing in something new, a business conducts adequate market research. That is really essential to take ‘calculated risks’, and is beneficial to the business in the long run. Here, being risk-conscious is a good idea, for putting a lot of money at stake might not be so fascinating to the stake holders, employees and for the market at large.

It is a reality, the world today is quite risk conscious, but is this new to our times, or is it something that has been coming along from generation to generation?

Turning the pages of history text books, we do see examples of warriors and kings sometimes taking rash decisions, not taking into account any risk associated with their actions, and we see that sometimes action or inaction was based purely on the risk associated to the contrary. It has been observed that being risk conscious has had affected many of history’s important decisions, but is not the current generation’s risk consciousness just too exaggerated? Are we too risk-conscious these days?

At the level of the technological development of this era, risk calculation can also be a computable task, but that’s not what has made risk consciousness so exaggerated in the modern times, it is probably the fast paced life. We are indeed too risk conscious, but is if for the good or for the bad, that depends on how we make use of the risks we assume or calculate.

As Bill Cosby rightly said,

“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.”


I have had written this essay for my entry into the Commonwealth Essay Competition. The topic of the essay was the 5th amongst the topics of the senior category. I choose this topic amongst the 5 because of its relevancy to the modern times, and for this very reason I have published it here.

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How SM-MUN happened!

SM-MUN LogoIn the year 2012, students of St. Michael’s proactively took the initiative to organize and host not one, but two grand events: the first one being the St. Michael’s Debate Championship (SMDC) 2012, in which other institutions and private delegations were invited to compete in cut throat parliamentary debates; and the second one being the St. Michael’s Model United Nations (SM-MUN) 2012, the first MUN to be organized and hosted by our school, in which students from grade 9th onwards, as delegates of different nations around the word debated on haunting issues and tried to solve the world’s problems in a diplomatic manner. Both events were a big success.

On 29th August we submitted written a request to our Deputy Principal Mrs. Naiyer, to be given the permission to organizing the SM-MUN. That very moment Mrs. Naiyer passed a contagious smile and gave us a nod, which was our signal to go ahead with our plans. That day we spread that smile to whoever crossed our way. We discussed our ideas with Mr. Lobo, who encouraged us throughout the planning and preparatory stages, giving us new ideas and refining our own. In a few days it was decided that I was to be the President and Bilal Haider would be the General Secretary of the first St. Michael’s Model United Nations.

We spent the month of September planning on how to go about and organize this, at first seemingly impossible task. We kept our pace and slowly we could see light at the end of the tunnel, we could see a successful event ahead of us. We went through the registration phase where students started enthusiastically registering themselves for their first MUN and selected our volunteers, who played a major part in the success of this event. Mashaal, Swaleha, Owais, Elsa and Hassan agreed to chair.

In October, as soon as the O levels were finished with their assessments, we started the training sessions. It was, for almost all the participants, their first MUN experience. The training sessions were from 7th to 11th October, and gave the participants the training they needed to display extraordinary debating and diplomacy skills at the conference. We also arranged for the lunch for all the participants, and our Principal Mr. Misquita generously decided to sponsor the snacks on all three days.

Friday 12th October was the first day of SM-MUN: The volunteers and organizers had a lot to day that day. After the Friday prayers, as soon as I entered the school, I could see decent, smart, and prim and proper pupil dressed formally for the occasion. We began with the distribution of the packages for delegations which were the folders, pads and pens along with the placards, and the ID cards of all participants in a large paper bag. After this all the delegates were seated in the Auditorium where we started off with our opening ceremony.

The ceremony began with a recitation of the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Bible, followed by speeches by Mrs. Naiyer, Mr. Lobo, the President, and the General Secretary. Finally the Principal Mr. Misquita declared SM-MUN open. As the curtains were drawn on the opening ceremony, we had a tea break. After the break, the delegates moved to the committee rooms, i.e. the Auditorium, Hall 1 and Meeting Room 5, where DISEC, ECOFIN and SOCHUM committees respectively were to be in session. The first day went great, and although immensely tired, we all looked forward to the next day.

Saturday 13th October, day 2 of SMMUN: All the participants were on time, and the committee sessions started as planned. DISEC was shifted to A-Levels Room 1, as there was an orientation in the Auditorium, and Hassan and Owais had an exam that day. Bilal and I had to chair in their place. That day, Mashaal and I had to give a speech at the orientation as well. Everything went well. I designed the certificates and had them printed that day. We had some entertainment sessions during the MUN, as is the tradition in all MUNs. These entertainment sessions provided the much needed break from long serious debating. Overall, all the committees went exceptionally well.

Sunday 14th October, day 3 of SMMUN: The last day went exceptionally well, with crisis situations popping up in the committees, and the committees finally passing their resolutions at the topics at hand. We had finished a little before the planned, and had a long entertainment session in Meeting Room 5 after DISEC raided ECOFIN and DISEC and ECOFIN raided SOCHUM with paper balls! This was followed by a formal lunch, and then the closing ceremony officially drew curtains on the first SM-MUN.

At the closing ceremony, our Deputy Principal Mrs. Naiyer gave a thought provoking speech, this was followed by a closing speech by me, and finally SM-MUN was declared closed. Finally the committee chairs announced the much awaited Best Delegates, Honorary mentions and Special Mentions. The final act of the day was the distribution of the certificates of participation to all the delegates.

That day we all went home with a big smile on our face! We had achieved something big; something we had dreamed of achieving! That day was probably the biggest and the happiest day I could remember of. It was really amazing to see our hard work and efforts shine so beautifully over the course of those three days!

I am really indebted to our volunteers and all our delegates; and I am really thankful to Owais, Mr. Lobo, Mrs. Naiyer and Mr. Misquita for all their support and encouragement.

As I had said in the opening speech on the first day:

    “SM-MUN is all yours; make it or break it, but do your best!”

I was really pleased at the end, that everyone did their best and made our first MUN the best it could be!

 

Ahmer Jamil Khan
President of St. Michael’s Model United Nations
Head Boy of St. Michael’s Convent School

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St. Michael’s Model United Nations

SM-MUN LogoThe importance of debating and public speaking skills are immeasurable. Public speaking and debating are not just skills but an art, which are essential in shaping the personality of an individual. Humans are social; hence expressing oneself is an essential need. How well one expresses them and how well they get their ideas across to the other person and more importantly to a large audience determine the personality of the person. Many students in our school shy away from such opportunities, and this leaves a bad impact on them.

This is the reason why we are organizing St. Michael’s Model United Nations (SM MUN) in our school. The SM MUN is a simulation of the United Nations, where students would represent the member states of the United Nations as their respective countries’ delegates. This event aims at giving our students an insight into this style of debating, and a taste of how the United Nations works. Most importantly, this would give you a chance and a platform to speak up before an audience and an opportunity to discover and polish your speaking skills.

This event would be a great opportunity for many of you to have your first taste of public speaking, and to face your fear of doing so. There are many students who are scared of speaking into the mic or are afraid of a large audience in front of them. Don’t worry neither the mic is going to bite you nor would the crowd lynch you.

Ahmer Jamil KhanA few years ago, even I was scared of speaking into the mic and that too before the large audience. Whenever I was asked to deliver the thought of the day, or gave a speech at a debating competition, I would write a really good speech. But then at the moment of speaking, my pulse would shoot up, breathing became hard, sweating would start, and my hands and legs would tremble. Nothing is impossible, they say, and so eventually I got over my fears. I took the bull by its horns; participated over and over again in the very thing I was really scared of. It took more than a year, but soon afterwards I started enjoying public speaking. I now feel really good speaking into the mic and addressing a crowd has become something natural, something I feel I was made to do.

It is said, “In archeology you uncover the unknown, but in diplomacy you cover the known.” Yes, diplomacy is an art, an art of words, where the diplomat plays with words and sentences, to manipulate the truth, to make the situation favorable to their cause, to create a win-win situation, hiding the ugly truths and presenting beautiful lies as visionary promises.

Over these few days, you would learn not only how to be a good public speaker, but also how to negotiate, how to get your ideas and vision across to a large crowd, and would get a taste of international policy making and politics.

St. Michael’s Model United Nations would now be a part of the school’s annual calendar, and would each year be organized by the A Level 2nd year students. This event is open for all students from class 9 to A Levels. The A Levels batch of 2013 would not only leave the legacy to have organized the first SM MUN, but would also leave behind guidelines for all other batches on how to go about and organize this event in the future.

Ahmer Jamil Khan
President of St. Michael’s Model United Nations
Head Boy of St. Michael’s Convent School

Also published on the website of St. Michael’s Convent School.