There is a saying that the journey is often more important than its destination.
But in this fast-track world, where we are often defined by end results, how many of us truly realize it?
Personally, I, for one, am more driven towards the outcome.
But, Battle of Minds 2017 made me challenge my beliefs. It was this journey that encouraged me to go beyond my limits, help me grow as an individual, and be a dynamic team member. This particular journey was so unique and inspiring that it definitely was more important than the destination, as it helped me grow immensely as a person, both individually, and as part of a diverse team.
I have always associated Battle of Minds with prestige and honour. However, despite that, I could never have fathomed how different and unique this competition is, if I hadn’t been a part of this incredible adventure myself. I call it an adventure, because Battle of Minds gets you excited and charges you up, leaving you with a bittersweet feeling of satisfaction in the end.
Battle of Minds 2017 started off with an online assessment followed by a video submission where we had to identify and solve one thing we wanted to change about our city. That was followed by a very stimulating round -- an assessment centre, where one learns how to collaborate with other participants and solve a case together.
In the next round, we were asked to team up with students from our respective universities to tackle a pressing issue -- traffic congestion in Dhaka. I was impressed by how Battle of Minds’ activities were designed with the agenda of improving society and its living standards.
By encouraging a few children to use our safe and smart bus on a particular day, we got incredible results -- the number of parked cars and congestion decreased around the institution we operated in
We called our team Vanguard, because we believed that we could be the forerunners and come up with an innovative way to tackle any problem. The following few days were the most gruelling time in the competition -- as we set out to analyze what the perception of the average people facing this everyday problem was and how we can solve it.
Our idea was to reduce peak hour traffic congestion by introducing Bangladesh’s first ever integrated smart school-bus service called SchoolConnect. In the semi-final round, the judges liked our idea -- and pushed us through to the finals.
This meant tackling unprecedented challenges as it was time for us to pilot the project. We were faced with innumerable questions starting from how to launch a bus service within the span of two days, and how to earn the approval of the parents of school-going children.
At one point, these concerns were pulling us down, but we fought through it. We visited schools, we talked to parents, got in touch with an educational institution, and actually managed to rent an entire bus.
By encouraging a few children to use our safe and smart bus on a particular day, we got incredible results -- the number of parked cars and congestion decreased around the institution we operated in.
This, in turn, created a great platform that was both useful and commercially viable. The results were a great sense of relief, which motivated us for the grand finale.
The final presentation was a moment that will be with me forever. Bright lights, hundreds of people watching, and the grandest stage in the country was ours to take. I remember feeling nervous at first, but as the entire process started off smoothly a sense of assurance took over.
The results were one of the most nerve-wrecking moments of my life -- and when we learned that we were the first runner up team, we were not sure how to feel.
On one hand, we were ecstatic to have achieved this position in the most coveted competition of the country, and on the other -- we were stunned.
There is no feeling like the regret that comes over you, knowing that you fell short by just an inch.
Either way, it was over -- and raising that large trophy while the crowd cheered for you was worth everything, and I know I’d go through it a hundred more times -- just to feel that way again.
“What are you made of?” -- this is the question that Battle of Minds asked us continuously throughout the competition. When I first saw this question on a printed poster taped on the wall of our university canteen, I thought that it was something to create the hype.
But as time passed, and I started to face the surprises and challenges thrown at me, I slowly realized that Battle of Minds has helped us find ourselves.
It helped us comprehend our strengths and focus on the areas we needed to improve on, and it also was the platform for us to meet some incredible people. The people at BAT were so warm and accommodating that for a few days, we felt like a part of the closely-knit family.
To everyone who helped us get where we did, I will forever be grateful.
To my teammates Wasie, Rawnak, and Rumu -- it has been an absolute pleasure sharing random ideas with you people, crumpling up pages after pages of ideas, getting into unnecessary squabbles, and finally coming together as one to perform the way we did.
I wish we could have gone all the way, but looking back, I think the experience was much more valuable than the title.
After all, it’s the journey that matters, right?
Mashroor Faiyaz Khan was a finalist in Battle of Minds 2017.