This incident happened during the later part of 1800s, in Bengal (India) when Shri Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar and his few friends were busy collecting donations to start Calcutta University.
One day Vidyasagar stopped at the door of the palace of the Nawaab (ruler) of Ayodhya (one of the princely states in India during that period) for donation. The Nawaab was not exactly known to be a generous person and many people tried to dissuade Vidyasagar from approaching the Nawaab.
Vidyasagar met the Nawaab and presented his cause. On hearing Vidyasagar’s plea, the Nawaab got up, pulled one of his shoes and dropped in Vidyasagar’s bag for donation. Vidyasagar did not say a word. He simply got up, thanked the Nawaab and left. Next day, Vidyasagar organized an auction of the Nawaab’s shoe in front of his palace. A Lot of the Nawaab’s knights, Jaagirdaar-s (landlords), court members, who wanted to impress the Nawaab started bidding. By the mid-afternoon the shoe was sold for Rs 1000.
The Nawaab was happy to hear that his shoe fetched Rs 1000. He matched the auction money by adding his own Rs. 1000 as donation.
When the destiny dropped a shoe in his basket, Vidyasagar could have walked out furious. He could have thrown the shoe on the Nawaab as revenge of insult. He could have got depressed and gone home and cried that nobody is willing to give him donation and given up his efforts to raise donation for the university.
But he did nothing of that sort.
He remained focused on the main goal. He set aside his personal feelings, ego and insecurities and exploited the situation creatively. He rose above his ego and personal feelings and exploited that of others around him. He took that shoe and converted it into the biggest donation to start Calcutta University. Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar converted his on-face insult and resulting disappointment into a Rs. 2000 donation plus a pleased Nawaab who could be of some assistance at some point in time later.
Calcutta University became a reality. It became a center of education for fine arts, social studies, science and technology.
Due to Vidyasagar’s calm mind and his ability to rise above his ego and personal feelings, he was able to think intelligently and convert an insult into an opportunity and success.
Many of us may face similar situations in life. When faced with such a situation most of us would instinctively react or have impulsive reactions, which can make the situation even worse. Generally, it is also seen that most of us listen half, understand quarter, think zero and react double. Some of us may simply sulk or get disheartened, discouraged or depressed.