Month: March 2010


People never improve unless they look to some standard or example higher and better than themselves.  Tyron Edwards

Improvement is nothing but a positive progress from the current status. Repetition is the most commonly practiced method for improvement. With constant practice, we soon excel in the activity and that is the improvement that we see. A better method is to follow a good example and to learn the correct technique. Take the case of a badminton player who has learnt to play the game as a child. Invariably they play the backhand with the wrist facing the net, which is the natural inclination but the wrong technique. Initially mastering the right technique would be a bit tough but once mastered we know that it is the best way ahead.

Another technique is to have standards to measure our performance. We are used to this technique in school, where we invariably compared our results with our friends or those weaker than us, so as to get a sense of achievement. However when we get older and wiser we realize that we need to seek those better than us in order to know the limits that we need to achieve. Higher benchmarks or performance standards mean that there is a scope to reach that level and creates an urge in us to reach there. For years it was assumed that no human could run the mile under 4 minute until, Roger Bannister ran a mile in 3 min 59.4 sec on 6 May, 1954. Soon thereafter the record was broken by a number of runners.

When we have no yardsticks to measure performance, we find it hard to be motivated, tough to visualize success and lack the self belief to attain the peak. Standards and role models act as beacons of light that light up the path and provide us the intensity and illumination to chase the performance landmarks. However talented we may be, it is only our inner motivation that can drive us to succeed and exceed the benchmarks.

Remember: When we climb a mountain we don’t conquer the mountain but we conquer ourselves.

Try These:

  1. Take a rubber ball or a basket ball and tell yourself how many times you can bounce it without losing the control over it. Attempt it and try to improve on your performance.
  2. Can you set performance standards for your daily/ weekly/ monthly/ yearly tasks? Look at this post and you will notice that it is the 90th post in a row. What was the performance standard I set for myself and am I on target? Do you think I could achieve my goal only because of the target set or because of some other factors?

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A genius is one who shoots at something no one else can see – and hits it. Anon

If one looks around one can find plenty of brilliant people, scores of enormously talented people but one has to search with a fine toothcomb to locate a genius. This is because a genius is an exceptional brilliant and talented person and someone who is near perfect in his/ her chosen field.  While a quantitative assessment of a genius is a near impossible task, a distinctive qualitative feature is their ability to think beyond, visualize the future and move purposefully towards creating that vision into a tangible reality.

The computer industry is full of geniuses be it a Bill Gates or the Google Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brinor  or a Michael Dell; what sets them apart is their ability to ideate, visualize, take proactive action and have the courage of conviction to risk everything to pursue their dreams and make it the reality what we all experience. There are many dreamers, many ideaters and plenty of people with grandiose vision but it is only a genius who can work relentlessly and persist in their pursuit quite literally shooting from their hips and hitting the target with panache and élan. Most Nobel laureates would qualify to be labeled genius as would many a sporting icon be a Michael Jordon or a Sachin Tendulkar  or a Roger Federer.

A genius is not just born with his talents but has carefully nurtured, harnessed and unleashed his potential with a clear focus, a dramatic vision and taken calculated risks. No genius may show sparks of brilliance early in life but it is their hard work and toil, their ability to see problems as challenges and their vision to creatively build up their edifice that transforms ordinary mortals with extraordinary ability into genius.

Remember: A genius is 1% percent inspiration and 99% perspiration.

Try These:

  1. Study the life of 3 geniuses of your choice. Preferably chose each one from a different field. List out the 3 major happenings or qualities that made them geniuses. What is the learning from studying their lives?
  2. Among the people you know intimately who is a possible genius? Why did you choose that person. What are the qualities that qualify him to be a genius? What are the limitations that will hold the person back?

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Live with Hope

Hope is one of those things in life you cannot do without. LeRoy Douglas

It is hope that allows you the luxury of failure or else we would have given up the very first time we failed. If you just reflect on the numerous things we have attempted and failed, it would occur to us that but for the encouragement of those who are concerned with our well being and the small doses of hope they instilled in us, we would be sorely tempted to remain frustrated and despondent for the rest of our life.

So then what is hope? Hope is the feeling of self worth and optimism that a person has within to face the challenges of life. Hope is what people cling on to when they are their wits end trying to cope with the pressures of daily life and occasionally, when confronted with the unexpected twists of fate. Imagine your horror if told that a close family member is suddenly diagnosed with a tumor in the brain or stricken by advanced stage of cancer. Hope is the feeling you get that the person will beat the disease, get healthier and resume normal life. Hope is also what spurs you on to find a cure, give courage to the afflicted and those distressed and dispirited.

Hope gives us a reason to believe that the tide will change, the darkness will vanish and that if we hang in there we shall be rescued. It helps us find the hidden reserves of strength within us, stimulates our passive faculties into action and helps us regain our equanimity which may have been disturbed initially. We must against hope masquerading as dogmatism and stubbornness both of which can misguide us into false beliefs and irrational thinking. E.g. A brain dead person can never be revived and it is better to accept that reality rather than getting second and third and more opinions and refusing to pull the plug. Similarly if we have no aptitude for a subject and we continue to dogmatically try to master it we will waste our time and resources in vain.

Remember: Hope is some extraordinary spiritual grace that God gives us to control our fears, not to oust them.  ~Vincent McNabb

Try these:

  1. Think of what words you will use to console and give hope to a couple who have recently lost their only child? How would you give solace to a young child who failed his final exams because of illness and has to repeat the year?
  2. What are some of you fears/ things you dread? How do you pick up courage to face the ordeal? At times the work gets to you and you become both desperate and pessimistic; how will you handle such situations?

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Enthusiasm in all you do

You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.  Colette

When we get down to doing anything in life, be it singing in the bathroom, ironing your clothes or balancing your account books we must do it with enthusiasm. The reason is simple; anything done with enthusiasm means you are motivated, your enjoy doing it and you would do a good job. Any job done well gives you a sense of achievement and lifts your spirits. It is possible though that occasionally you would realize that you wasted time doing the job, or you didn’t do the job correctly or it was the wrong job that you did. This would dishearten you and make you feel stupid and foolish but if you had done the job with enthusiasm you can be sure that you have no regrets about the time spent on the job.

Analyze your daily schedule and you can find glaring acts of omission and commission in the tasks you have attempted. Some tasks that could be delegated were pursued by you because you didn’t know how to delegate or whom to delegate it to; some tasks were way beyond your abilities but you attempted it half heartedly, because you didn’t want to be seen as avoiding the task. Many a time you have a wrong set of priorities that results in you doing what you love to do rather than what is important to do and then the important tasks get done ineffectively since you are under time pressure. All these will take a toll on you for you will see each such task as a wasted effort and an avoidable foolishness; yet if the task was attempted with enthusiasm you will savor the moments that you managed to make headway on those tasks.

Enthusiasm gets you fired up and eager. This will make you feel engaged fruitfully in what you attempt to do. In fact it will also energize your team members and co workers. Commitment to the tasks is much greater and tight deadlines look interesting and challenging for those who focus on the results to be attained rather than on the mundaneness of the task. If the task looks daunting, collective enthusiasm helps teams pull of improbable victories. For people who can generate enthusiasm regularly, they can always sport a smile, visualize success and attain their goals with relative ease. More important is the fact that if their efforts are in vain rather than despair they look back with contentment on a good job done, pick up the new learning to be put into practice on the new job and roll up their sleeves to begin a new task ENTHUSASTICALLY.

Remember: “Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”Winston Churchill

Try these:

  1. Make a list of tasks that are part of your work but which you dislike / find boring/ are difficult/ are useless in your opinion. Now for each task give three motivators that can help you see these tasks as less daunting then before. Put these motivators to work for you and make you enthusiastic.
  2. Do you think a secretary or telephone operator’s job is boring? Assuming that they are boring, how do they keep themselves motivated day after day? Are there lessons in this for you to keep yourself motivated and enthusiastic?

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A mirror called life

The world is like a mirror; frown at it, and it frowns at you.  Smile and it smiles, too. Herbert Samuels

There is an old adage which states that you can see a glass with water and respond that it is half full or half empty. Either way you are right, but it is the attitude that triggers the response that is central to the learning. Similarly, life is often full of surprises and shocks, if we see it as challenges and blessings we can deal with both rationally. However if we seek to view surprises as mere lucky breaks and shocks as unmitigated disasters, we would go through life, seeing problems, difficulties and hopelessness in all the significant events of your life.

If we analyze the newspaper headlines everyday, 80% of the news would be negative, sad, disheartening, disturbing and repulsive; yet don’t we read the newspapers the next day with renewed hope that the world has changed for the better? It is this positive thinking, the hope and the urge to see things in better light that motivates us everyday and keeps our adrenaline flowing. It is also this optimistic view of life that spurs us on to buy a lottery ticket despite winning just a pittance sometime. However when the motivation turns to greed then we can ruin ourselves by turning into compulsive gamblers who derive a kick from the excitement of optimistic thinking which is in realty a form of hallucination.

Observe the way you react when you comb your hair in front of a mirror. You do check yourself out from various angles, smile and revel in your own smile, sometimes frown and dislike the image peeping back and occasionally stare and distrust the stare that you see. Finally you focus on your hair that you combed, perhaps make finer adjustments and then with a smug feeling of looking nice move on with the business of the day, happy and optimistic. It is this belief that things are fine, today will be a good day and if things go wrong I can still manage that gives you a pep in your step and brings a song on to your lips everyday.

Remember:   “Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.” Ashley Smith

Try these:

  1. Pull out your old photo albums and pick out 15-20 pictures over the years that you love very much. Now shortlist 5 pictures and visualize the background and memories associated with the picture. Do those pictures bring smile to your face and lightness in your heart? What made that happen? Is it the pleasant memories, the poignancy of the moments, the feelings of ecstasy and /or a mix of myriad emotions?
  2. For the next few days, have a smile for everyone you meet, a kind word for those you talk to and go out of your way to extend a helping hand to all those you can. Pay particular attention to family members an surprise them at least twice in the coming fortnight. E.g. You can plan a surprise movie program for the family, take them to a new restaurant, buy a gift for each member of the family etc. Now notice their initial reactions and their attitudes over the next 2 weeks after you have finished your surprise fortnight. Do you think you can repeat the surprises occasionally?

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Pain is never permanent.  Saint Teresa of Avila

With the exception of those who really experience acute continuous physical pain, mainly due to some incurable illness, particularly cancer most pains are never permanent. Of course, if one takes a view that pain is part of our punishment in earthly life or view pain as a sacrifice for God, the pain is relatively easier to bear. Yet, the reality is that pain is never permanent, for time is a great healer and death the ultimate pain reliever for the sufferer.

Pain can be categorized into two classes, physical pain and psychological pain. There can be numerous sub divisions, but this broad distinction suffices for a better understanding of pain. Physical pain, has a very important role in a living creatures life, mainly because it alerts you to an illness or malady. It can be symptomatic of a more serious problem than just the pain per se. Just as importantly it makes us aware of the vital role played by the various body parts and pain signals us that we need to take great care of our physical self. A tooth ache can give you excruciating pain as will a broken bone. In both cases the remedy is to visit the doctor and go by the doctor’s line of therapy. More often than not, a correct diagnosis and the right medication will relieve you of your pain, perhaps slowly but in the end you will be pain free.

It is the psychological pain that is more difficult to heal. This is because the pain is often self inflicted like being unable to get over ones grief of the death of a loved one, particularly if the person died, in the prime of his/ her youth. Coming to terms with grief is challenging because it is based on the individuals mental, psychological and emotional make up as also the kind of relationships shared and an occasional guilt of not having shown more affection and love. There are others who revel in the poor me syndrome, where they feel they are victims of a cruel fate or paying for their sins or visualize themselves as destiny’s martyrs. Still others enjoy the guilt trip, where they blame themselves for a loved one’s death or alienation. Some parents blame themselves for their children going astray or marrying against their wishes and live the rest of their lives seeking answers to the question ‘where did I go wrong?’ However TIME being the greatest healer and with the help of expert psychologist and psychiatrist, most people get cured of their pain.

Ego is another prime culprit for pain. Often an egoist would easily be pained into believing that his/ her ego is being pricked. They would see hidden meanings, imagine the tone and words to be sarcastic, feel that they are being talked about when someone makes a general observation or comment and they are in constant self inflicted pain of imagining being humiliated, insulted and trampled upon. To know more about EGO see the post on our weekly blog dated 16th March 2010.

Remember: “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.” Lance Armstrong

Try these:

  1. Do you shy away from taking an injection and would prefer to take oral medicines even if it means prolonged treatment as compared to the quick cure of injections? Do you believe in blood donation? If you don’t is it because of your fear of the pain when donating blood? If you believe in blood donation do you donate blood at least once a year? What stops you from doing it?
  2. Think of one lingering memory of the physical pain you suffered? Perhaps it might be a toothache. Ask if you delayed going to the dentist because of the far of the pain if the dentist treated you? Now think of a psychological pain that still rankles you. Maybe missing a good percentage in a crucial exam because you goofed or it could be the break up with your first serious love. Has the psychological pain really gone? If not is it because you find it hard to forgive the culprit (you in the first case and the lover in the second case).

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Being bored is an insult to ones self. Jules Renard

Ask any school kid, a week after his/ her final exam how they spend time and they will invariably end up with the bitter complaint that they are bored. It is also possible to get a similar answer from people who have retired from active service. While boredom in kids can be pardoned because of their immaturity and inability to discern how to fruitfully use their time, the complaint of the retired is hard to pardon simply because they have so many options with them to keep busy and do some fruitful work. How much more unpardonable it is to hear the word boredom from people who are in their prime of their lives.

Boredom starts when a person’s creativity and work ethics start rusting. It gets worse when the person is lazy, has no sense of purpose and has a lackadaisical attitude. It doesn’t help if the people pretend to be busy by engaging in passive activity like watching TV, reading every page and sentence of the newspapers and / or gossiping. Most people who engage in such frivolous activity constantly complaint about time moving slowly, the poor weather conditions and keep finding fault in everything around. They are easily irritable, snap at people, potter around aimlessly and gerenaly get on every ones nerves.

For any intelligent human being keeping ones self occupied is not a difficult task, for there is ample scope for everyone to harness his /her abilities and talents. However, too much money and too much time are often the main culprits that attract boredom. Having a sense of purpose, a goal, a clear cut task is central to the theme of driving away boredom. Planning a schedule for the day and the week and if possible the month and year with sufficient breaks for contingencies is the next step. Notice how very few women seem to complaint of boredom; in fat most of them complaint about being over worked. This is because they are engaged in a wide variety of tasks, take pride in doing house hold chores, enjoy having people around so they go ahead and take on anything that cheers all those they want to please.

Having a personal passion to pursue, taking on a new learning challenge, taking on a cause close to your heart, pursuing an activity focused on a social cause etc are some of the many alternatives that will keep boredom away. All you need is the will, the feel and the person drill to utilize your time and talents to drive away boredom and lead an active and fulfilling life.

Remember: “Boredom is the desire for desires” Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

Try these:

  1. Make a list of activities that you are passionate about. Select 3 to 5 of these and plan a schedule to indulge in each of it every day or at least every alternate day. Explore creative ways to be involved in it.
  2. When bored ask yourself 3 questions. What useful thing can I engage in? How will I see returns on the task I do? Will I enjoy doing that task? The task can be as simple as visiting a sick relative or friend or taking on a honorary position where your expertise can be harnessed for  a social cause or it could be more vigorous like gardening,  writing, teaching etc.

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God made the world round so we would never be able to see too far down the road. Isak Dinesen

From Biblical times we know that man had an insatiable curiosity which resulted in Eve succumbing to the lure of eating the apple that would make them God like, when her curiosity was tickled by the serpent. Christian tenants proclaim that we are still suffering from that original sin of curiosity. Every generation continues its flirtation with curiosity and the mushrooming business of horoscopes, numerology, feng shui etc. have their doctrines rooted in man’s craving to be told that he will have an even better future.

At the same time, when we look forward and if all we are able to see is negativity, gloom, despair and hopelessness, that is when we lose the will to live and give up without a fight. Perhaps that accounts for the numerous suicides and mounting cases of depression. Similarly, others will be sorely tempted to adopt illegal, corrupt and unethical means to ensure that they can obtain what they crave for, if they visualize a bleak future for themselves on the path of fairness and righteousness. The real issue is avariciousness and the longing for happiness which quite often we mistake to be materialistic possessions.

Perhaps it is therefore a divine intervention that the future is hidden, unfathomable and mysterious; for then the surprises they bring and the sorrows that come ones way, would be seen in the right perspective and better understood. When the world looks forward to tomorrow, it is a sign of hope, growth and happiness and an indirect praise for Gods plans and wisdom. Metaphorically speaking perhaps that is why the world is round and so when we look ahead our range is limited. In that quick peek of the future, more often than not, we see things from an optimists lens and even the few blips on the horizon seem to be trivial. No wonder we are privileged to have a sound sleep and sweet dreams. Perhaps that also explains how the poor and disadvantaged can still smile, cling on to hope and visualize a better day for themselves.

Yet curiosity by itself is not the problem. In fact curiosity is the root of all progress and discovery. It is a vital trait that needs to be nurtured and honed in children. However, it is stretching the limits of curiosity for selfish crystal ball gazing, proclaiming non scientific irrational trends and  the manipulation of individuals by exploiting their emotions particularly fear and greed that lends itself to the necessary scrutiny of the rationalists and scientists.

Remember: The first and simplest emotion which we discover in the human mind, is curiosity. Edmund Burke

Try these:

  1. How frequently do you read your horoscope? Do you meticulous track the outcome of the predictions? IS there a correlation between the predictions and the final outcome? Do you think the predictions re vague and too general to be given much credence?
  2. If you were to be born again, who or what will you like to be reborn as? List 3 boons you do not have in this birth that you would be keen to have in the next birth. List out 3 boons or gifts that you cherish the most in this life. Which one of the three can you sacrifice in the next life?

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Fools rush where angels fear to tread. Anon

Far too often, we come across numerous scams where scores of people have become victims of financial frauds perpetrated by fly by night operators.  As a curious onlooker we might be taken aback by the foolishness of people who put in their hard earned money into what later turns out to be outrageously bold scams. When the true extent of the matter becomes public and the modus operandi in public domain, we cannot imagine how any sensible person can be lured so easily to part with his/ her money. In fact at a point instead of feeling sorry for the victims we end up almost idolizing the mastermind behind the snazzy schemes and con games.

If we were to reflect on the matter dispassionately, we would soon realize that every such con uses the age old human failing of greed. While greed itself is the original sin, the lust for quick riches is what pushes people into becoming foolhardy and taking risks that sane people would never take. Blinded by greed and lured by the promise of luscious quick returns, the foolhardy victim rushes in where even angels fear to tread. Some of us are victims of poor planning, inefficient execution and intellectual arrogance when we jump into schemes that at first sight looks like jackpot winners. Other times we do not want to share the spoils of the illusionary returns and so, hold all our cards close to our chest, not consulting any one nor taking anyone into confidence; then we move at lightening speed to have the first mover advantage and trip and fall flat on our face.

In the recent past the dot com bubble that went bust , the sudden collapse of the stock markets which are often artificially propped up by unscrupulous market operators and the yo yo movement of real estate prices provide ample testimony, to the tendency of people to let reason take a back seat while they are driving, what they think is the best bargain. Reason and rational are thrown out of the window when we are blinded by greed, chew more than we can digest and succumb to the lure of overnight riches.

Remember: If you act in haste you will repent at leisure.

Try these:

  1. The next time you are offered an attractive financial product be it a mutual fund investment or an insurance policy listen to the sales person carefully. Then prepare a small report and a conclusion about your investment decision. Later take the advice of two exerts and tally their response with your own. Check out how revealing the expert comments are as compared to your own and that of the salesperson.
  2. When pushed to the brink, unless it is life threatening, don’t react but calmly think and then respond. Let your actions be guided by deep thought and the good counsel of friends / family/ experts. Don’t let your ego cloud your judgment.

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With each sunrise, we start anew. Anon

When we get up in the morning with a song in our hearts, a prayer on our lips and a spring in our step we are on the way to a new enjoyable day.  Never mind the odd crisis, occasional work pressure, the rare reality of unavoidable tragic news and the painful thought of having long spells of mundane and boring inactivity life is still a blast as long as you are alive. If we look at it positively every day also brings the possibility of good news, pleasant surprises, new friendships, exposure to crazy technology and spirited challenges. The real benefit is the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual growth that we can be sure of.

While we can’t turn the clock back we certainly can rev up our attitudinal engines and decarbonize both our mental and physical systems. Perhaps nothing is as invigorating as starting the day with a Suryanamaskar (yoga exercise – meaning worship of the Sun god). This can be followed by pranayam and meditation. A well drawn out and planned schedule will provide us both the advantage of optimum time utilization as well as a clear cut goal for the moment. More than anything else the new sunrise promises us a full day, a clean slate and ample opportunity to achieve our dreams.

Even the gloomy days have a message for us. It helps us appreciate the bright sunrise better and tells us that things could be worse but we are spared that. If we pay attention to nature we can be guided by its simplicity and message. The birds singing herald a new day, the sunflowers dancing in the breeze and forever following the sunlight, the calmness and the sudden change of tides in the ocean are an analogy for the vagaries of life and the beauty of the full moon brightens ups the darkest night like a lit candle that dispels darkness.

Life provides us not just the spark of existence but throws us the challenge to burn ourselves in order to light up the life of all around, each of whom can draw from your light and your life.

Remember: “There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day.” Alexander Woollcott

Try These:

  1. Visit one of the numerous websites on the net on yoga. Attempt a few asanas. If you can attend a basic yoga course it will help you know the basics of yoga and pranayam well.
  2. For a week every morning write down what you want to achieve during the day. At night evaluate your success rate. What were the specific reasons where you failed yourself? E.g. if someone did not keep an appointment was it your fault that you didn’t plan and alternative tie usage in case the person did not show up. Also, list out the pleasant surprises for each day and also one unpleasant happening in the day.

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