“I thought you being from Army had discipline”

said the learned Professor Ramdas. These words he spoke at the final feedback session after undergoing 12 days of training on soft skills at UNNATI Bengaluru (www.unnatiblr.org). Out of 12 days, team of SatysSparks (www.satyssparks.com) had conducted one and half days of well-planned and rehearsed coaching workshop on individual discovery & development using Gallup strengths based development framework. In the feedback Prof Ramdas had commented “Yes, today’s session achieved the objective in helping me to unleash my hidden talents. These will definitely help me to convert these to my strengths”. His strengths are Achiever, Competition, Learner, Analytical and Consistency. He has graded our programme 4 out of 5.

His remarks about my discipline left me in a state of shock. I started thinking about my discipline since my childhood.  Till the age of 12 when I left for the Sainik School, I was thrashed by my father only twice. That also I did something silly on being instigated by others. One of my uncles (we lived in a joint family with three uncles) who believed in the concept of “spare the rod, spoil the child”, he used his rod liberally on all siblings and cousins. Being the eldest I got larger share. But according to me I was well disciplined. I was never late even if I had to walk bare feet for 3 miles to reach the school. I always completed the home work and scored good marks. In the school, the Head Master caned me only once in three years, because I was the football captain and was to deposit the football after the games which I did not do once.  Not a bad record of discipline. But the learned professor said that “I thought you being from Army had discipline”.

I went into another orbit. When in the Sainik School, I never violated any rule but for once in 4 years. Out on a liberty till 6 PM, we stayed put in Jhumari Tilaiya to watch an evening show (6-9 PM) movie “Phool aur Pathar”. We were five of us and I was the senior most, House Captain. At 9 PM, we did not have any means of transportation so we all ran back to the school distance being 13 KM. I immediately went to the House Master Mr SK Chandra and reported what had happened. We were about to be punished but since we had already run 13 KMs, Lt Col RL Gadeok, the Principal liked adventures, we were not punished. I retained my House Captaincy. I still thought my discipline was very good, but the learned professor said that “I thought you being from Army had discipline”.

Still further I travelled on my memory lane to the National Defence Academy. I thought I had the best discipline. Right from the day one and the first hour and the very first minute in the academy I exhibited by discipline talents predominantly. I was never punished. My drill boot always had 13 nails. My laces were always shining and straight. My drill shorts were always well starched. The orderly never had any problem in putting is hands through my shorts to pull the shirt under so that it remained well tucked in. Of course, I attended a few mass punishments called Singarh Hikes. It was good for our physical well-being. I passed my drill square in the first shot and “Drill is the bedrock of discipline”. I was the right marker of the squad. And when in file formation, I was in the centre. My drill was one of the best and drill is the bedrock of discipline still the learned professor said that “I thought you being from Army had discipline”.

Moving ahead my service with the Army and the United Nations— I kept my high disciplined performances. I kept my values in both the organization on my head. Sometimes disobeyed unlawful commands to keep my values. I do not remember any incident of violating any rule, contrary to the Army Act, Defence Services Regulations and the Indian Penal codes, still the learned professor said that “I thought you being from Army had discipline”.

After my retirement from the UN in February 2015, I became a volunteer faculty of UNNATI and a visiting faculty of the Christ University and more recently a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. I have always been well prepared and on time. In fact, bought my own projector and speaker system to beat the hassles that we faced by interface between HDMI and VGA. And most important about my association with Prof Ramdas was of one and half days. My team was always well prepared, we had rehearsed threadbare and meticulously. Entire coaching session was like a military precision. We had anticipated and had ready answers to all probable questions that professors could ask. The feedback of 4 out 5 is 80% which I consider excellent from the overall point of view, but still the learned professor said that “I thought you being from Army had discipline”.


From the Gallup Clifton Strengths point of view my top five (signature themes) are Learner, Achiever, Strategic, Arranger and Input. Discipline is not there in my top five. My next five in sequence ie 6 to 10 are Maximizer, Responsibility, Individualization, Empathy and Developer. Discipline is not even in top 10. “Discipline” happened to be at 12th place for me. Focus being at 11th place. The learned professor can never be wrong. I do not have discipline even in my top 10 themes. Just to explain to the readers that I have discipline. The other 11 themes ie Learner, Achiever, Strategic, Arranger, Input, Maximizer, Responsibility, Individualization, Empathy, Developer and Focus are naturally occurring in my life more frequently than Discipline. These determine the way I think, feel and behave.

But still I was very curious to know the mind of Prof Ramdas. I asked him during the tea break, as to what did he find lacking in my Discipline.  He said, “Since you are from Army, I thought you will give us commands ‘sit down’ ‘get up’ ‘turn right’ ‘turn left’ ‘quick march’ and so on”. Impact of Hindi Movies and his perception of military discipline made me an indisciplined disciplined person. Discipline is the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour and it is anyway a part of my being. According to Gallup “people who are especially talented in the Discipline theme enjoy routine and structure. Their world is best described by the order they create,” but I enjoy other 11 talents more than routine structure.

by Satyendra Kumar of www.satyssparks.com