It was May 2014. I had performed at the national finals of the Toastmasters International Speech Contest. The person who wins at the nationals goes to the International Speech Contest. I did not win that particular contest.

The person who represented India on the International stage, well, he became an overnight celebrity in the world of Public Speaking! Everyone who met him addressed him as the National Champion. Almost a year has passed, the addressing remains the same.

My feelings? Truth be told, I would of course have been much happier had I become the champion myself. But I can imagine why people would address him with the National Champion title. Even when I look at him, I see him with respect. Not just because he won the nationals, but also because he was good, better than me for sure.

Which brings me to the important concept of… Validation.

For those who don’t know, I want to tell you that I am an IIT-IIM graduate. I belong to both of those elite educational institutions of the country known as the IITs and the IIMs, places where hundreds of millions aspire to go.

Now that you know this, do you look at me differently? Did you get any different feeling upon hearing this? I often get it from people when they get to know my educational background. A feeling which can only be considered as a mix of respect, longing and maybe envy.

Deep inside our heads, when we look at a person, we seek Validation. Validation in terms of their educational qualifications, in terms of their academic achievements, in terms of their professional achievements, in terms of their hobby achievements or in any other way perceivable by our minds.

It is of lesser relevance whether the winner of the national finals is a better speaker than me or not. What is important is that he won. That he got Validated in the minds of the people that he is the champion. Hence, wherever he goes he will get more speaking assignments than I will. That wherever he goes, he will get more respect from the community than I will.

I don’t say that with ill-will or despair at heart but to raise an important point. And that is, it is important to seek opportunities of Validation in areas one wants to grow in.

Medals, trophies, awards, qualifications all exist for one reason. To give a man Validation in what he does. And what’s the reason for giving a man Validation? Because our heads are designed to look for Validation when we look at a person.

We all carry some or other Validations with us. Achievements or talents we are proud of, achievements or talents which when we share with people our heart feels elated. Actively looking for more such opportunities of Validation and adding them in our personal and professional lives defines one’s growth in those aspects of life.