Substance over style…

I was watching a cricket match recently when one of the commentators made a very pertinent comment. He said he liked one of the young and aspiring cricketers of India for his style. But, it is time that he shows “ Substance over style”. This set me thinking.

Many of us spend our life time trying to sharpen our styles. We forget the fact that Substance is more important than Style in everything in life. While style make get you temporary accolades in a particular match when you score well but if you do have substance and are not consistent then you may fade faster than you could imagine.

This point is equally true in every aspect of life. We tend to focus on the outer behaviour and forget the inner one. We tend to be outwardly well behaved without a human heart. What is the use of being the best dressed man in the office if we end up being the worst behaved manager at the workplace.

While dressing for the occasion may be important but dealing with people humanly is more important than our dress. We may never remember the best dressed persons we have met in our lives. But, we will always remember the people, who made us feel special on all occasions.

It is like being a great orator in a debate. While our diction and style of delivery can get us admirers, we will be remembered more for the content and quality of our debate than the style of delivery. This does not mean style is not significant. What is being emphasised is that substance should always prevail over style. If we have substance and deliver in style that could be the best option before us.

Even when we listen to speeches of great parliamentarians in India or abroad, we look for substance over style. While a great orator with an eloquent command over the language impresses us in the moment, it is the content of her delivery, which lingers in our thoughts forever.

I remember one of my college professors who had great substance and no style. He was grounded, simple and down to earth. He did not have a sense of dressing too. But all of us as students used to admire his content and even nicknamed him as a walking encyclopaedia in college. He was knowledgable , modest and had quest for learning and sharing with others. This proved that substance always prevailed over style.

Another important learning for me is that people with substance may not necessarily need to focus on style. Whatever style they adopt, their substance overflows and takes care of any deficiencies in style. However, it cannot be the other way around. If we do not have substance, style cannot compensate for it.

As in the photo above, while style is good, substance over style is also critical.

It is time to lay the foundations of substance before we mould our style in life. We need to focus on substance first and style next and not the other way around.

If substance is there, style will always follow.

What do you think ?

S Ramesh Shankar

9th November 2020

8 thoughts on “Substance over style…

  1. Great take sir. An important accounting concept is ‘substance over form’ we learnt during our academics . Your illustrations with respect to it’s application in our practical life are most insightful(I can draw a parallel to that accounting concept here) . The post is rejuvenating and inspires us to be more caring about content rather than getting swayed by mere window dressing. 🙏


  2. Very, very apt post. Many of us seem to be busy ‘preparing a face, to meet the faces that we meet’* in preference to authenticity and substance.

    (* courtesy: WH Auden, British Poet)


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