Successfulness vs Fruitfulness | December 2017

Successfulness vs Fruitfulness

Dear Friend,

[These Second Life updates are what I send friends – some from my first life that lasted 18 years in the corporate world, some from my second life when I decided to quit my job, come back to India and work with children and young adults on the values and skills that will prepare them to be leaders with a difference. To read my first Newslet for context and later ones visit  .]

Warm wishes to you and your family for a very Blessed Christmas and a Joy-filled New Year!
When I reflect on Christmas, I often think about how Jesus spent 90% of His life on earth leading the ordinary life of a son to his mother and earthly father; working as a carpenter. Less than 10% of his life was spent on His actual mission. It seems like His father made very inefficient use of His son’s time on earth. Shouldn’t he have had him spend more time preaching, healing, changing lives, leading people to God? Instead He chose to have Jesus spend the majority of His life living the ordinary life- praying, working, preparing, for that short stint when He would draw a line through history. And the world would never be the same again. It causes us to pause and think about efficiency and effectiveness, about success, about impact, about doing and being.

2017 passed fast. For a lot of us, that meant we were busy doing things, sometimes getting things done. Sometimes overjoyed by a success, sometimes dejected by a failure.

At TalentEase, my friend and Co-Founder Pradeep and I, often beat ourselves up for missing a business metric, or falling short of a success goal. We revel in the joy of a success and then soon after, have to deal with the frustration of a failure. We savor the launch of our leadership program at a school and then have to deal with the rejection of not getting through at another. We see months of effort persuading a school to take a program suddenly come to naught as the school leadership is changed. At another place we rejoice at the magic of a Principal who has never met us invite us to her school to commence the program. And as we deal with the ups and downs we have drawn reassurance from that wonderful insight of Fr. Henri Nouwen (though a successful and sought-after theologian and spiritual director who taught at Yale, Harvard and other elite institutions, found his greatest joy and made his greatest impact from the time he spent in the L’Arche community for the mentally and physically disabled)

“There is a great difference between successfulness and fruitfulness. Success comes from strength, control, and respectability. A successful person has the energy to create something, to keep control over its development, and to make it available in large quantities. Success brings many rewards and often fame. Fruits, however, come from weakness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. A child is the fruit conceived in vulnerability, community is the fruit born through shared brokenness, and intimacy is the fruit that grows through touching one another’s wounds. Let’s remind one another that what brings us true joy is not successfulness but fruitfulness.” 

Of course, we will shoot for all those success goals and conquer a few more in 2018, but we will not forget to be grateful for the fruitfulness. Fruitfulness best seen in the words of the children we work with.

This programme changed me. All my bad and rude habits were going away slowly. I became a better person. TalentEase teaches us values that impact everyday life. My biggest learning has been that the world doesn’t revolve around us. You’ve got to adjust, sacrifice, be kind, and accommodate others. There are people around us who have feelings too”
-Andria Mathew, Class IX, Good Shepherd School, Chennai

“I have improved a lot and I just love this programme. Every day at my school or at home, I will be waiting for Saturday (when the HeadStart session is run) to come. I am sure that me being in this programme will make me achieve a great thing in my life”
-Rachel Melissa Andrews, Std VII, Good Shepherd School, Chennai

“This programme is very nice and I like to come here rather than waste time on TV Or games”

-Buarhnuddin Y Lodger, 7 std

“I came to know my leadership qualities  and to be  honest to myself.”
                                                 —- Hema Varshini, 7B , LFC, Ammoor

“I make good choices and decisions in my life now.”
—Jaya Surya, 9B, LFC School, Ammoor

“Extremely helpful and impactful. Thank you for everything. I could feel the change right after the first session.”
—Harini, National Public School, Bangalore

“I enjoyed it, I learnt a lot, Had a new experience.”
—Diya R. , Vidhya Niketan School, Bangalore

“Really the messages and motivation given by TalentEase is very helpful and useful in our lives. It makes me think how to plan and achieve my goals. Thank-you.”
—Bershia, Loyola Inst. Of Technology and Science, Nagercoil

TalentEase is a gate where we start our path towards success and leadership qualities…It is teaching us the qualities which are essential for our life and also to become a good leader. This is the class which is most liked by me.”

  • Harshini IX A, St.Charles School

“It transforms my talents from ordinary to extra-ordinary. TalentEase made me to come out of my self-(imposed) limitations. It brings about a wholesome transformation not only (in) myself but also my friends. TalentEase makes me to wait for its (session)”

“TalentEase is not only LEARNING, It is a TURNING to my life”

  • S J Naveen

So, what were some of the fruitful things I will remember from the year past.

  • At a school in Tamil Nadu, after our VIP ( Values In Practice) session on Kindness & Concern for others, the children on their own came up with a ‘sharing’ box – a carton that was tied to a post in the playground. Those who wanted to share something they had with another, put it in the box and the one who needed it, took it out. A teacher shared how he saw a girl put her lunch box in, for a classmate who had brought no lunch. A fruitful moment that inspires us every day and makes what we do worthwhile.
  • Our first Graduation ceremony at the orphanages we work with – where 52 girls completed their first year through the TalentEase course. Girls who had never ever spoken in public, were on stage confidently and cheerfully presenting on how they had grown and on their dreams and ambitions. Watch the graduation video at
This coming year we look forward to launching our LightLives website that will enable people like you to support and invest in helping children from orphanages and low income schools get the benefit of the leadership, future-ready skills and values courses we run. Will be mailing you in 2018 with details. We look forward to your enthusiastic support.
  • The first time a school actually invited us to do our skills and values program. For context, most often schools see this as a distraction to academics and are unwilling to invest; but as the benefits are becoming obvious and the gaps from not having it become painful, we’re having schools call us to get our program going. Even though in many cases we are pushing against the wind, we estimate we have run over 300,000 student impact sessions so far.
  • At a college TalentEase Graduation ceremony – one of the graduating boys goes on stage and says “Thank you TalentEase – thank you for the skills you taught us, but most importantly for the values. I specially want to thank you for teaching me about the value : Respect for Women. I will treasure and practice it all my life.”
  • At our Facilitator training, one of our Facilitators shares how a girl in her session has never opened up. One day our Facilitator notices the girl has a tear in her skirt. She calls her over, gets hold of some needle and thread and stitches the tear. The next day the girl comes over and begins for the first time to talk and share. She talks about all the sessions and what she’s learnt so far. A fruitful lesson about how much what we are and what we do, impacts people more than what we say.
  • A leadership group of religious Sisters watch the movie Moana during one of the sessions we are facilitating and are inspired to ‘go beyond the reef’ in their ministry and service.
  • The maid who comes to help occasionally at home tells my wife, Teresa about how our son Marcus helped her with something and addressed her as ‘Aunty’. With tears in her eyes, she says she treasures that respect that she often hasn’t got from other children. At a school PTM, our daughter, Marcela’s teachers talk less about her academic achievements and more about how she helps other children. Teresa and I are grateful for the fruitfulness.
I hope each of you will use this opportunity to reflect on the fruitfulness in your life and in your work this past year and hope 2017 has been a year of satisfaction and meaning. May I wish you and your family a very Blessed Christmas and a very Happy New Year- and much success AND fruitfulness in 2018.

God bless.


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