Month: July 2010

Be realistic

Never try to catch two frogs with one hand. Chinese proverb

In the fast paced world we live in, we are often compelled to chase our dreams by doubling our pace and if possible finding some short cuts. The result is that we either get exhausted half way through or we end up going in circles ruing our rather ill adviced and hasty decisions. Unfortunately we have a penchant to quickly forget our misadventures and no sooner our urge to chase the pot of gold returns, we not only double our original pace but now try to latch on to every possible opportunity. That is when we are attempting to do the near impossible like attempting to catch two frogs with one hand; and in the process both frogs leap away.

One needs to just check if we make huge TO Do lists or if one is often saying the words “I forgot ….’ or  if we are constantly struggling to meet deadlines, to get a feel of how over burdened we are. This is also indicative of how we are battling time constraints and struggling with our own frogs.  There are various reason why we keep on adding to our overfull cup of challenges. The first is our inability to say NO to people, most of whom are often taking advantage of our goodness. By being obliging  we are actually trying to juggle with more balls than what we are capable of handling. Obviously one is bound to spill a ball or two in the process and unfortunately the blame is also assigned to the person who slips. The second problem is our overconfidence that results in us believing that only we are capable of delivering results. The problem with over confidence is twofold; we take on more than we can handle and we refuse to delegate.

The biggest problem though is that we are never grounded in reality. This results in us sweeping aside all semblances of rationality, logic and temperance under the carpet. Instead we put our trust in an exaggerated opinion of our abilities, an unjustified faith in handling time pressures and a mistaken notion that we can with extra special efforts achieve extraordinary results. The voice of reason that keeps harping that we need to take a reality check is quietend down by our brash attitude and pompous outward show of bravado. To be grounded in reality requires us to be pragmatic, humble and truthful. Humility enables us to accept reality without rebuttal, pragmaticism helps us see things in the right perspective and truthfulness enables us to accept a harsh reality with equanimity.

In the pond of life there will be numerous frogs that will leap around and we would be sorely tempted to believe that catching a couple of them is child’s play. As a result we would, when the time comes try to demonstrate our imagined skill and attempt to catch a few frogs with one sweep of the hand. We misjudge our ability and under rate the frog too only to see the frog’s splash water on our face as they make a quick gateway into the pond.

Remember: “Simply put, you believe that things or people make you unhappy, but this is not accurate. You make yourself unhappy.” Wayne Dyer

Try this:

  1. How many times do you think you can keep folding  a paper into half ? Write down a figure and then take a newspaper page and start doing it and find out the answer for yourself. Was your original estimate realistic?
  2. If you are adventurous enough and are not afraid of frogs go to the outdoors and attempt to catch a frog with your hands. If you succeed, try doing it with one hand. Now visualize yourself trying to catch two frogs with one hand.

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Growing by overcoming our weakness

Growth begins when we start to accept our own weakness.  Jean Vanier

As long as we are blind to the reality of where we can improve, our growth will remain stunted. It is only when we know where we are weak that we can begin to make a focused effort to overcome that weakness. It is tough to easily identify our real weakness because often we focus only on the symptoms rather than attempting to diagnose the real problem. It is even more difficult to accept criticism and so we often ignore negative comments, take a casual approach to feedback we get and prefer to rationalize all criticism with frivolous arguments. The net result is that we continue to struggle with our weakness.

A sportsman for example would find it extremely tough to realize why despite his hard work and practice sessions he is unable to reach the first place in various tournaments. A good coach will constantly monitor his performance and correctly identify if the problem is psychological, or if it is in the technique or it is result of poor strategy. Once the player accepts the coaches diagnoses and is prepared to make the changes recommended it is possible that he would be able to see better results. One reason we do not easily accept our weakness is because our ego comes in the way. The ego is vital to make us more competitive, aggressive and helps us focus on victory. The trouble starts when the ego assumes itself to be more powerful than the sum total of a persons abilities. Such ego refuses to accept that there are any flaws in us and we tend to ignore, underplay and / or brazenly refute any criticism that confronts us.

The second reason we are unable to confront our weakness is our inability to visualize. There are many intangibles in our life that prove to be the millstone that drags us down. Poor attitude, fear of failure, inability to think tactically, being lazy etc. are realities that are difficult to pointedly demonstrate. Any such comment is hard for many people to accept simply because they cannot visualize how it applies to them. Finally our reluctance to change will always be a stumbling block to accepting a weakness. If we accept a weakness, we will have to work hard to change it but many of us are so set in our ways that we dread the thought of making a change. Under such circumstances we prefer to stoutly deny any suggestion of weakness that would perpetrate the need to change and make adjustments. If we are told we are overweight we will make statements that it is temporary because we partied during a wedding in the family or that it is just the clothes that make us look fat or that we can still walk 5 kms without getting tired and so we are perfectly fit.

If we finally let better sense prevail and acknowledge our weakness we can at least make a beginning by trying to improve. However the process of improvement is challenging and painful. Challenging because we might have to unlearn and or double our efforts; painful because the results of our efforts would be time consuming, unpredictable and may not produce the results expected.  However the growth that remains unseen and unappreciated is in the fact that by accepting our weakness we have reduced our ego, improved our visualization and we are prepared to change our thoughts , actions and beliefs.

Remember: “If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” John Maxwell

Try this:

  1. Take a pen and paper and attempt to write with the hand that you normally don’t use to write with. Keep up the effort for at least 3 spells of 10 mins. each for one week. Notice the progress from day 1 to day 7. How did it feel? Do you think you would have progressed faster if you had some motivation?
  2. List out 3 bad habits that you are constantly being reminded of. Chalk out a plan to reduce the bad habits that you have?  Have a time frame and clear milestones to ensure that you progress. Eg. If you bite your nails then you can buy a pair of gloves and wear it as often as possible or tell your partner to tell you when you indulge in the habit and collect a rupee from you each time.

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Are you appreciative?

For everything you have missed, you have gained something else. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many of us keeping ruing missed opportunities and wallow in self pity. Instead if we managed to look at the situation dispassionately we would immediately be able to connect some benefit however small in the situation. There is a classic statement, that mirrors this attitude, which we often resort too when a person dies young, which reads as ‘Those whom the Gods love die young’. The statement accepts the reality of death of a young one and yet reasons that it happened for a more special reason.

In the relatively more mundane business of life, there are heart breaks galore and a few glimpses of ecstasy. Boredom, repetitiveness of the work done, indifference of people around, failures that occasional we face are all undesirable happenings that sap our energy and kill our spirit. Worse still are the unexpected shocks, the sudden calamities that befall us and / or the trauma one faces when one goes through a life changing experience. While most of us manage to weather these storms of life there are few fragile souls who succumb to the pain and end up losing their balance or committing suicide.  How one copes with the unexpected pain is critical to appreciate how one begins to value what pleasure one is blessed with.

The fundamental technique to confront our fears, worries and tensions is to step back and accept the reality without exaggeration. Once we accept the reality we need to somehow reconcile to it. As long as we cannot accept and reconcile to the reality we will never be able to see and appreciate the blessings left behind by the aftermath. Imagine losing all of one’s possession to a fire or a major earthquake.  Our initial reaction is a lament that we should have perished too. This lament is one of deep aguish and searing pain but when rationality takes over we curse fate and luck in order to rationalize the reality and reconcile to it. It is much later that one looks around and seeks to thank providence for the miracle of life and for a chance to build a new life all over again.

If one has to appreciate the fine things in life we would necessarily have to contrast it with the unpleasant realities for only then does the value gleam in our eyes. The Chinese have a theory of Yin and yang which roughly translated could mean negative and positive or dark and bright which when taken together make a whole. If one were to look at every event in our life minutely, we would soon realize that for every life there is death, heat is contrasted by cold and for every night there is a morning that follows. What we really need to focus on is how we appreciate the reality; do we see two long dark nights sandwiching a small day or two wonderful days squeezing a small dark night?

Remember:  The real voyage of discovery consists of not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust

Try this:

  1. Can you think of something good about these situations?
    • You lose you wallet
    • You miss your flight
    • You meet with an accident while driving
  2. Think of 3 very irritating people whom you know/ interact with, preferably one from your work place, one from amongst your family members and someone whom you know. Can you find 3 good qualities in each of them?

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Follow your heart

I’d rather be a failure at something I enjoy than a success at something I hate. George Burns

How many of us can cross our hearts and say that we passionately enjoy whatever we do? For most of us what we do is not as enjoyable as what we would have loved to do. No doubt there will also be a few people who are blessed with the gift of thoroughly enjoying the work and their career, but for the vast majority what we do is by and large the second priority choice that we have taken up to make a living. Ideally what we should have chosen is something that we enjoy every moment of our life.

Unfortunately, compulsions of making a living forces us make compromises and we end up doing things which given a choice we would happily say pass. For many of us talent, hard work and diligence will assure us success but we would still be left with an emptiness within us. There are two reasons why we fall in this trap; the first is the dictates of societal norms where people are expected to follow a set norm  and the second reason is our inability to believe in our dreams. Academic excellence, for example is the yardstick used by conventional society, to sift the wheat from the chaff when it comes to respectability in society, financial clout notwithstanding. Some set norms of attaining status that have grown over the years is becoming an engineer or a doctor or an MBA or a CA. Most other options have a secondary tag psychologically attached to it and so irrespective of our interest, liking or aptitude we pursue one of the preferred options.

If we assume that we have a deep and abiding interest in some non conventional careers or business choice like being an environmental activist or being a marine biologist or a naturalist we would face pressures from various quarters with the primary argument being will it be a paying profession that can sustain you financially over the long term. At this point many of us begin to harbor grave doubts about our future in the said field and quietly slither away to pursue the societal norms. The moment we have self doubts we will always take a path that gives us more confidence in the future but possibly very little to feel elated about. Perhaps this quest for happiness and contentment is the catalyst that compels many a successful individual to abandon his / her pursuits and change tracks to follow his / her heart’s desire. Some give up successful corporate careers to become founders of NGO’s, move into teaching, become social activists, take up their passion in the fine arts etc.

Not all who follow their hearts desire end up as great successes because they may soon realize that have their own limitations in pursuing their dreams. However the joy and pleasure they get in doing what they crave to do is something that success in their previous avatar may never have given. Bliss is the feeling that envelopes anyone following his / her heart’s desire; appreciation, success and recognition are all secondary to them.

Remember: “Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.”

Try this:

  1. What were the 3 professions/ business ventures that you would have ideally liked to be in? What prevented you from following that path?  If you ever decide to pursue any of these options when will you begin? How will you judge that it is time for you to change tracks?
  2. Read the article on Mr.P.G Tenzing in the following link . Can you appreciate his craving and passion?

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Forgive self

They may not deserve forgiveness, but I do. Anon

At first glance the quote is both confusing and perplexing. Our initial reaction is of shock and disbelief that someone can dare to point a finger at others but absolve himself/ herself of the same crime. It is only on a closer second reading and introspection that the true meaning of the quote becomes apparent and deeply insightful. Read the quote again before you read further.

In fact the crux of forgiveness is deeply embedded in the quote. One needs to forgive another not because he/ she deserves forgiveness but because you want to be forgiven and absolved of any ill feelings, anger, guilt and vengeance that you may have felt in your heart. It is quite natural and human to be aggrieved when some wrong has been perpetrated or perceived to perpetrated either on us or anyone close to us or on humanity in general. The resultant emotions of anger, shock, haplessness and revenge instantly come to the fore and  we are possessed by it for quite a while. More demonic thoughts like taking an eye for an eye can creep into our thoughts and in extreme cases we might even contemplate elimination of those who we see as not worthy of any sympathy let alone forgiveness.

It is against such a backdrop that we need to revisit the above quote. If we can control all our negative impulses and allow ourselves to be more rationale it is possible that over time our original angst and anguish will subside and we may possibly look back at the events as a bad nightmare. However it is tougher for us to completely forget the incident and the mental trauma one goes through. It is toughest for an average person to get over the fact that some extremely evil and vile thoughts had crossed our mind with revenge as central to those thoughts. It is then that we search for a way to clear our fragile conscience and realization dawns on us that forgiveness is the only pacifier available; suddenly it dawns on us that They may not deserve forgiveness, but I do.

The only way one can live life in a carefree and oblivious manner is to ensure that we carry no traces of rancor or ill will for another. Forgiving even those who do not deserve it, opens our heart to the power of love, the spirit of giving and the bliss of peace.

Remember:  “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Lewis B. Smede

Try this:

  1. Read this article and perhaps you will realize that you empathize with the writer. You will also discover that it is easy to blame another and very tough to forgive them for their acts but it is best that we forgive for maybe we are guilty too.
  2. Make a list of people whom you find hard to forget or forgive for the pain they inflicted on you. It could be teachers from school and college days, it could be a parent or a relative, it could be a colleague or a boss or maybe it is former friend or spouse.  Ask yourself if you can attempt to forgive them now and convey it to them too if they are alive?

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Timely decisions

Often greater risk is involved in postponement than in making a wrong decision. Harry A. Hopf

When caught between the horns of a dilemma, our preferred option is to wait and hope that the crisis or event blows over or fate intervenes and spares the ordeal of taking a decision. Unfortunately, many a time we are forced by circumstances to finally take a decision and to our horror we realize that if we had only taken the decision earlier it would have been far more effective.

Take the case of a patient suffering from a heart disease and the doctors opine that a surgery is imminent. If family and friends who the patient consults suggest alternatives including second opinion and alternative treatments but postpone the surgery, there is every possibility that in the intervening period he can suffer a fatal heart attack. If the example sounds farfetched, then visualize a situation where you have to choose between picking up the last available air ticket at a premium price or take a chance that you will may or may not get a cheaper ticket in the next flight.

The risk of postponement is that there are no assurances of success whereas by taking a decision one has improved the chances of success by half. Take the case of a mountaineering team who have nearly reached the top of the peak but suddenly encounter a blizzard and have to decide if they must tactically retreat and forgo the opportunity to attain success or take a chance and risk their lives. The decision has to be taken instantaneously and no one has the luxury of debating and analyzing. By simply sitting the probability of not reaching the peak and yet perishing is multiplied manifold. By moving on they at least improve the chances of attaining glory while increasing the chance of dying if caught in the blizzard. However being decisive is not everyone’s cup of tea simply because not all of us can visualize, strategize and exercise their judgment impersonally.

To understand the gravity of the risk of delaying decisions visualize the decision of a fighter pilot to eject from his plane that has lost power and is surely going to crash. If he loses altitude he will not be able to get the required height for a safe ejection and yet ejection itself is fraught with danger. Considering the speed of the plane, his duty to ensure that he must attempt to save the plane and ensure minimum civilian casualty in case of accidents, the pilot has to make a split second decision or perish with the plane. Many of us do not face such critical time bound decision making but ironically that is also the reason why we postpone taking decisions. There is nothing like a fool proof decision for every decision is subject to hundreds of variables any one of which can play truant and turn our decision on its head. Keeping this reality in mind we must  resolve to take time bound decisions simply because the alternatives are possibly more damaging than the decision we make. More importantly when we take a decision we take on a responsibility and so we will be committed to make the decision work in our favor.

Remember: Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader.” General George S. Patton

Try this:

  1. The popular program Kaun Banega Crorepati the equivalent of Who wants to be a Millionaire is a wonderful program that brings out the importance of making a decision. If the same is being aired on TV attempt to be a participant and play along. Notice how you have to make a decision!
  2. List out 5 factors in order of importance that you will consider when you have to make a decision to retire. If you wish to keep active after retirement what will be the 5 alternatives from which you will choose one or more  to keep busy.

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Courage to change

There is nobody who totally lacks the courage to change. Rollo May

The critical phase in change is that inflection point when we pick up courage to follow our hearts whisper which has turned into a shout. The problem is, much as we realize with each passing day that we need to change tracks, we are pressurized by societal norms, parental pressures and perhaps a miniscule amount of self doubt but what really terrifies us is the consequences of failure in pursuing our desired alternative. This brings up the real problem with change; not that we lack courage but we are paralyzed by fear of failure.

The initial hurdle that anyone wanting to change faces is to convince well meaning but ill informed well wishers that include family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances that your need to change is deeply felt by you and imminent. However the passion and intensity with which you feel the need to change is just not empathized by them and therefore they will dissuade with logic. Often the logic is simplistic don’t attempt things no one has dared to do within family, stick to the tried and tested, follow the path that is most accepted and the final argument is that the true measure of success will be what one can evaluate in physical terms particularly monetary terms. Where the logic fails is in conveniently ignoring the emotional element for it is neither tangible nor easily appreciable by a third party.

With the overwhelming pressure brought about by well meaning people it is obvious that a normal person will swiftly be vacillating between his/ her heart’s desire and the apparently irrefutable logic that is dished out. It is at this point that self doubt creeps in and one starts questioning the very basic premise on which one had planned to adopt change. Self doubt clouds judgment, asks the wrong questions, let’s fear build a nest in our heart and mind and worse of all it triggers the process of making our commitment and intensity of purpose wane. The conflict in the mind has to then be resolved with one decisive blow but that is where we feel powerless to act. We are powerless to act because we are now paralyzed by the fear of failure.

The good news is that each of us has the courage to change but only if we overcome our fear of failure. The reality is that every person will fail numerous times in life and not surprisingly every one also attains success almost twice as many times. This needs a little explanation. We succeed twice once when we get up after failing and the second time when we don’t fail. Now if we see things in this light, it is crystal clear that our fear of failure is misplaced, unjustified and statistically probable only in the extreme case and even then success is assured because of the higher probability. So we can safely conclude that we need to simply tap into our courage that is dormant within us and be the change we want to see!

Remember: “Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose.” Tom Krause

Try this:

  1. Before the week is out do something you have never attempted before. It could be writing a poem/ a song/ a limerick or a letter to the editor. Maybe it is the long delayed decision to buy a pet / indulge in some major spending to spruce up the house. Or it could be more life changing as popping the question to the person you love or simply making that big decision to quit a salaried job and start your own business or quitting your job after getting a new one. Please ensure that the later life changing decisions are well thought out and planned for and not done simply as an exercise in testing your courage to change.
  2. Read up on a different angle to the concept of change by clicking on the following link

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Accept gracefully the reality…

Happy he who learns to bear what he cannot change! J.C.F. von Schiller

While it is perfectly alright to attempt to improve and change, it is often quite a tough task to accept that some things can’t be changed. If we were to attempt to rewind out lives, almost all of us would want to make drastic changes in the way we grew up and the way we lived. Alas we don’t lose much sleep over the impossibility of changing the past because we are reconciled to it. We may have a few regrets though, like occasional lamenting that we should have studied harder or that we should have expressed our love for our parents and siblings more often or that we should have followed our hearts desire in our career choice and not have been pressurized by family and friends.

Our problem invariably starts with the recognition that there are a few imperfections in us that we would desperately love to iron out but some of them are near impossible to change. If we are not blessed with a silky voice, it would be impossible to acquire one now. Similarly you would come across so many people seeking miracle cures to improve their height, their looks or nonexistent talents. What is more difficult to accept are what we perceive as our strengths being run down or criticized. While every student who enters the portals of Harvard or Stanford or the IIT’ and IIM’s would visualize themselves as natural leaders and possible business tycoons, the reality is that quite a few of them will have to somehow reconcile that despite their academics and special talents they still don’t have the critical competencies that will catapult them into the orbit of their dreams.

Ironically there is booming business ostensibly promising changes that people crave for. Beginning with quick fix solutions for balding men which spans the entire range of creams, lotions, oils and culminating in hair weaving , there is a whole range of beauty and fairness  therapies targeted at ladies. The fashion scene is not too far behind and the battle of the bulge and the size zero craze have panned out as booming business propositions. Health food, spas, massages are the new life style miracles promised to one and all. The education sector is more blatant promising to make toppers out of dunces and extending their magic to getting admissions in premier institutions and promising astronomical salary packages for their graduate students. What is typically left unsaid is that everything is relative and subjective. Eg. The hair weaving works on just a few and the battle of the bulge requires a lot of discipline, strict diet and regular exercise.  As for education there are limited seats so it is just impossible for everyone to make the cut.

Amidst this chaotic cacophony of false promises, impossible dream peddlers and fantasy seekers, the person who steps back and does an objective reality check and accepts the results is the winner in life. Even if we are excellent in certain areas of life, the reality is that only the extraordinary can make it big in those fields. So there is nothing unfortunate or humiliating about being prudent and giving up our chase of what we realize is an elusive dream and instead focus on harnessing the best out of the existing resources we are blessed with. Look around and identify the happy people and it should not surprise you to see many a housewife falling in that category. They are happy not desperately trying to balance career and family. Surprisingly there would be many a career woman too who has resourcefully balanced career and family perhaps at the cost of putting their career plans slightly on the back burner but delighted that they are enjoying both a successful career and a quality life. If you are not enjoying your life, pause to ask yourself if you are chasing something will always elude you  and instead focus your energies on some of your passions and you will experience a calmness and peace that invigorates and energizes you.

Remember: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Reinhold Niebuhr

Try this:

  1. Make a list of 5 changes that you want to bring in your life. It could be personal or lifestyle changes and at least one of them should be a change that you hope to bring about in the next 1 month. Jot down the changes in some tangible form eg. Don’t say I want to lose weight but say I want to lose 2 kgs in 2 months. Start working on those changes immediately.
  2. Make a list of changes you wanted for over 3 years but have not succeeded. Analyze each of those failures and identify if the goal was wrong or the method faulty or the change sought was foolhardy or preposterous.  Do you want to still pursue those changes?

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Wait and hope

All human wisdom is summed up in two words – wait and hope. Alexandre Dumas

Ask Bill Gates about his new product offering or Mukesh Ambani about his next move and after the usual spiel about products and plans they will invariably indicate that one needs to wait and hope for the final outcome to unfold. If the rich and famous swear by the wait and hope policy, who are we to dare to be different? The future is so uncertain that every rational person has to per force embrace the reality of accepting a wait and hope policy.

Contrary to the popular notion that wait and hope is a passive and unfashionable strategy, the wise will see the wisdom of the ages in this policy. Just as an expectant mother waits 9 months to cherish her motherhood or a farmer waits patiently from sowing to reaping the law of life is wait and hope. What is pertinent to note is that in both cases the protagonists have been actively going about their business and only when they have played their part do they patiently wait and hope for their just reward. So the myth that one is passive is exposed and we need to appreciate that each one has to first play his part with diligence and faith before one can afford the luxury of waiting in hope.

Both waiting and hope have very positive connotations. Waiting signifies the need for enormous patience, fearless acceptance and the need for steely resolve. When we are patient we allow ourselves to be mature and grow in mind and body. This in turn strengthens us to boldly and fearlessly accept the reality that unfolds which becomes the fruit of our patience. If things pan out the way we want we would be overjoyed but tempered otherwise we will be distressed but never disheartened for we know we have it in us to try again. To appreciate the wonders of patience look at the clippings of a tiger stalking its prey.

Hope on the other hand is the candle that lights up a darkened way illuminating not just the pathway but also making us aware of the inherent dangers that line the path, thereby making us aware of the existence of varied possibilities. Hope gives us the reason to look forward to each new day, visualize favorable outcomes and is the final guard rail that protects us from falling into the abyss of self pity and failure. If one did not enjoy the luxury of hope, each of us would have simply given up when we failed miserably the first time. If any of you were unfortunate to get a red line in your report card which indicated that you failed in the subject, it was the hope that you will still be supported by a kindly soul at home that gave you the courage to show the report card at home.

The trouble with many of us is that we wait in hope even when we are aware that we are indulging in a pointless exercise. A student who has never cared to study the whole year cannot hope to miraculously pass his exams merely because he appeared for it. While a miracle may be possible, to expect it as a just reward for your post exam prayers, patience and faith is an exercise in futility. It worthwhile to recollect an old verse that reads as under:

‘Sitting still and waiting, makes no person great;

The good Lord sends the fishing but you must dig the bait!’

Remember: “Hope never abandons you; you abandon it”  George Weinberg

Try this:

  1. Watch this video link to see how HOPE triumphs.
  2. You can also read about the well known dancer and actress Sudha Chandran who despite losing one leg in an accident did not lose hope and continued to realize her dreams and win accolades.

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An exercise in humility

When the knees are not often bent, the feet soon slide. Anon

Humility is a great virtue and even the most egoist person would have to bend his knees to offer his / her prayers to the almighty.  Often there are times when we have to bow down to other forms of authority and as many a business man has realized ‘customer is king’ and ‘customer relations’ the mantra that brings even the biggest business man to his knees. The finicky movie business demonstrates it best when we see the lead actors and actresses forced to make public appearances to promote their latest movie simply because there is no guarantee of success and connecting with the audience is mandatory.

Being humble is a sure shot way to connect with reality. The fact is no one can achieve anything all on his/ her own. You have family and friends to thank for their implicit faith and trust in you, colleagues and associates for their part in supporting your endeavors, your competitors and critics for keeping you on your toes and making you competitive and there is the world at large who is the reason you become someone. Failures are inevitable but they reinforce the reality that you are vulnerable and that is a sobering thought that keeps you grounded. Your mistakes force you to apologize and that is a humbling experience and an ego buster.

Humility is an excellent ego monitor. While ego propels people into venturing into unchartered waters, success pumps the ego and one can tend to be over bloated with pride and arrogance. Humility comes as an antidote to such crass and crude mentality. Dynasties and kingdoms have met their Waterloo not because of social revolution as much as because of the lack of humility that blinded the power hungry to the reality of a changing world order.  The days of monopoly business are over partly because of the technological revolution but in large measure due to a brash management cozy in their ivory towers blissfully ignorant of their own inadequacies and bashfully brushing aside the any suggestion that competition is heating up.

Networking and connections are best established if one is humble. The lowest to the highest person in society can connect with a person who is perceived as humble. Humility empowers a person to be open, free and frank, virtues that immediately attract others to ones aid. The remarkable achievements of social activists, local level leaders, visionary citizens and the like can be traced to the fact that almost all of them is humble enough to go to the people with their pleas and get the necessary resources from the very people whom they want to serve.  Rich or poor if a person requires to ensure the availability of fresh blood for a surgery to be undergone, it is the network and connections that will come in handy more than money and power. Humility will be the one virtue that ensures people connect with your need and go out of their way to help.

Remember: “To be humble to superiors is duty, to equals courtesy, to inferiors nobleness.”Benjamin Franklin

Try this:

  1. Reflect on the 3 individuals for whom you have a very high regard. Ask yourself if their Humility is one of the virtues that influenced your appreciation of them?
  2. On Good Friday, the Pope washes the feet of 12 people who represent the disciples. It is one of the most public display of humility. Do you recollect any such similar incidents or events that you have come across?

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