The Dad Lesson

Amar Pandit , CFA , CFP

This post is dedicated to my father “Prabhakar D Pandit”, the real hero of my life. He departed for his heavenly abode on 2nd October 2022 at the age of 82 (well he was 17 days short of his 82nd birthday if I have to be accurate). He lived well and taught me how to live well. While he was a man of few words, he was a man who spoke with his actions and deeds.

One of the biggest things that I have learnt from him is Optimism – the fuel that powers our world and our lives. But that is not what I am going to write about today. Instead, I will share a piece of wisdom that has worked for me over the last several decades. Hope you find it useful.

As you know by either going through it or by watching movies that talk about it or seeing some of your own go through it, the four years of engineering are gruelling. Getting out on the other side successfully takes a lot of discipline, persistence and hard work (not to mention other things). In fact, even getting into an engineering college of your choice too requires these ingredients. Thus, the journey starts as soon as one finishes the 10th grade. You would have understood the connection by now. If not, stay with me.

We get into the year 1991 for a moment. I was pushing myself (without any rest) to ensure that I got into the engineering school of my choice. In fact, I was getting paranoid about my 12th standard exams. My dad sat me down and told me something that I thought was silly (at that time) but cute.

He told me If you really want to crush it, you need to rest.

If you have studied the entire year, why worry? You actually need to rest. Go watch a movie tonight and then Sleep Well.

Can you believe that an Indian middle-class parent (in 1991) telling his son to watch a movie in a theatre two days before his first board exam? And then sleep well. Don’t study at night. I personally didn’t understand the power of his wisdom and argued with him. Everyone is studying through the night dad and I need to as well. He told me, “All that is going to make you – anxious and tired. You have studied well. Done All the Hard Work. And if you think you haven’t, then there is nothing to worry about either. Because what you should have done in the last one year slowly and steadily can’t be done now.”

I decided to give watching a movie before the first exam a try. And it worked wonders. My anxiety was down, and I was super sharp in my first exam. I could practically answer every question well. One of the engineers from our society was shocked to see me playing during my exams. He was like “What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be studying at home?”

I replied back – “Well that is exactly what I am doing. This game of cricket is helping me up my game of studying. In fact, I am acing my practice tests. So, what’s the problem?” This gentleman thought I was nuts and that I was going to screw up big time on my exams.

Long story short, I aced my board exams, got into the school of my choice and finished my engineering implementing the mantra – “If you really want to crush it, you need to rest”.

Seems obvious, but for many, it’s very counterintuitive.

Today thanks to social media, we all feel like we aren’t doing enough or that our children aren’t doing enough. It feels like we live in the “Crush It Age.” Every time you turn around, somebody is crushing something. Working faster. Trying harder.  Getting smarter. Putting in longer hours. Sleeping less.

No wonder we’re so tired!

Now listen, my dad was all for hard work.

The point he was trying to make here (or make me understand) is that you can only work hard without rest for so long before you end up a broken human.

But it’s not just him telling me or me telling you, this is a settled doctrine at this point.

It’s much better to “work hard, rest, work hard, rest” than to “work hard, work hard, work hard, crash.”

With this being said, it’s time for me to rest (sleep now).

But not before I write – This one is for you Dad. I Love You.