Month: September 2010

No friend is perfect

Who seeks a faultless friend remains friendless. Turkish proverb

The greatest treasure a person can have apart from a loving family is the presence of  an intimate friend / s. Almost all of us are fortunate to have the luxury of a friend with whom we can be free, frank and forthright. Yet, there are many times when wished that our friend/s would not have certain qualities or mannerisms or vices or oddities that we dislike, despise and abhor. From time to time we could also get a feeling of being suffocated by the friends well intentioned but unwelcome attempts at demonstrating his/ her affection for us and /or inquisitiveness/ bluntness/ rigid stand etc. Despite these varied irritants, we value our friendship and passionately believe we can count on our friends when the chips are down or morale low or if we need their wise counsel.

While we are very clear in our mind that every person comes with a set of his/ her own unique mannerisms and characteristics, we gravitate towards those whom we are comfortable with, those who share some common sentiments with us and people with whom we can relate too even if they have sharply different views. In many friendships there might be very little commonality between friends and they might have very divergent backgrounds/ views ( for example friends from diverse ethnic/ religious/ cultural backgrounds) yet the bond remains because of the comfort that they share. Many good friends happily take a dig at each other’s oddities, quirks and idiosyncrasies without the slightest damage to their relationship and intimacy.

It is the odd ball who goes around with a magnifying glass, analyzing the faults of people who ends up being a very lonely soul. Obviously human nature being what it is, no one is perfect and every has  his/ her faults and it is virtually impossible to find an individual without blemish. The truly friendless person is one who seeks perfection in a friend and sadly keeps searching, hoping to meet an angel. There could be some people who have angelic qualities and will attempt to befriend the lonely soul but then a human in angel form will never be able to live down the earthling within… and the poor soul who is friendless remains so for he / she won’t accept any blemish …not even from an angel.

Remember: “A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.”

Try this:

  1. List out 3 friends and ask yourself if you can tell each of them 2 of their worst faults without alienating them or losing their friendship.
  2. Examine a couple of friendships that you developed in school days that have not endured today. Can you analyze what contributed to the going apart over the years? Was it the yawning physical distance or the chasm of ideological differences or the pressures of expectations from one another that could never be met or was it because of a serious misunderstanding or difference of opinion?

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How to be thankful

Who does not thank for little will not thank for much. Estonian proverb

People have a natural tendency to expect a lot but very few deem it necessary to be grateful and thankful in the same proportion as that of the bounty they receive. In fact there are very many times that we rationalize that the haves are morally bound to share what they have with the have not’s. Unfortunately what we do not realize is that our real craving would not be as much for material possessions as much as for our psychological needs and that companionship, understanding, encouragement etc. are what nourishes our spirit and soul and no amount of thanks can ever equal the true worth of the act.

Right from childhood we are trained to liberally use the 3 magic words of please, sorry and thank you. As we grow up these words come unconsciously to the fore at the appropriate time, but alas they have lost the spirit and the feeling that should really accompany the words. Sometimes, a please often sounds like a muted threat, a sorry is said with such poor grace that the intended recipient begins to feel sorry for the other party’s lack of upbringing and thank you sounds harshly indifferent and almost unkind.  However all is not lost. There are still enough people who value their words and are genuine and are demonstrative with their feeling.

Many people believe that a thank you is to be only articulated and so they never visualize other possibilities. Helping the blind to cross a road is also a way of saying thank you for the gift of eyesight that you enjoy. Spending a day out at the old age home is a way of saying thank you for the gift of our wonderful grandparents. When we begin to see our small actions in this light, we realize that we are actually living our thank you. A token of appreciation would be a very tangible and practical way to demonstrate our thanks. However it is the grace and feeling with which we present it that is the real thank you that is valued and treasured.  Has it occurred to you that when we approach someone for help, it is a way of saying thank you to that persons abilities / expertise.  By requesting  their help we are acknowledging their competence and indirectly stating that we are thankful that they are available for us.

There are many acts done by others that we can never sufficiently thank them for.  Someone stepping in to lend you some big sums to help you avoid a major financial crisis or a stranger who helps out an accident victim/s or a soldier who sacrifices his life in the cause of the nations call are examples of people whose efforts can never be thanked enough. There is opportunity for each one of us though, to say a big thank you to the world at large and for the wonders of life. A small beginning is by doing everything within our power to promote ecofriendlyness and reduce the ecological imbalance. Reducing the use of plastics, moving on to using biodegradable items and actively supporting the environmental cause are some ways of saying thank you to our forefathers who gave us a beautiful world. The biggest thank you that a person can offer is to be a donor after death. Be it an eye donor or an organ donor, this is perhaps the best gift that one can give as the ultimate thank you to GOD for the wonderful life bestowed. More importantly the recipients will never be able to feel obliged and they would remain thankful to you in their hearts forever.

Remember: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”  John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Try this:

  1. Go and visit some of your old teachers and spent some time with them. Take a gift for them too. If they live too far away at least send them a small thank you card or letter.
  2. Be an active blood donor and at least once a year on your birthday try to donate blood. If you are medically not fit to donate blood you can try and encourage others to do so once a year.
  3. Make an effort to find out about how one can become an eye donor / organ donor. Perhaps you can also pass on the message about such organ donation to others.

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Growing through our mistakes

The only man who makes no mistakes is the man who never does anything. Eleanor Roosevelt

There might never be even one individual in the history of mankind who can state that he/ she has never stumbled or fallen down . The same is true about mistakes because no one is so perfect that every action results in the expected outcome. It obviously stands to reason that anyone who claims to be perfect and without blemish is either lying or has never attempted anything worthwhile. The point that is underscored here is that fear of making mistakes must never be a deterrent for anyone to attempt a task. Mistakes happen for a wide variety of reasons. Carelessness is the most common cause of mistakes. Inefficiency, tardiness, ignorance, all taken together, forms the bulk of the reasons for other mistakes.  Unforeseen circumstances would be the next major cause of mistakes.

There are many people who go through life moaning and wailing that they made a terrible mistake/s and they cannot get themselves to forgive or forget the painful past. It is essential for such people to realize that most mistakes can be undone, a few mistakes can be salvaged and it is just a miniscule portion that lends itself to irreversible consequences. However human nature being what it is we are not prepared to risk anything and so in mortal fear of committing a mistake we fail to even attempt. Unless one attempts one can never be aware of one’s potential, let alone the possibility of leveraging one’s potential.  Look back and see the carefree way one went about learning to cycle in our childhood; falling off the bicycle and scraping ourselves was the norm. A few tears shed, some painful gashes perhaps even some harsh words from elders who advice us to be careful may have temporarily dampened our enthusiasm but one soon puts all these behind and once again peddles with gay abandon. Yet as we grow older rational and logic instill in us the fear of mistakes and we succumb to its scare instead of enjoying the bliss of taking on a challenge and surmounting it.

A pencil with the eraser at the end is a fine example of the balance between action and mistakes. Notice that the pencil is pretty long and the eraser consists of a very very small part of the whole pencil. It connotes our confidence in being able to use the pencil effectively and yet conveys our pragmaticism in accepting the reality that there could be mistakes. The eraser is a strong reminder too that mistakes can be erased and the work redone to an acceptable level. Mistakes in real life though, particularly those that violate our sense of fairness, justice or  feelings often tend to leave an emotional scar on a person and it is not easy to clear up those scars. A jilted lover, someone cheated by a close associate or friend, a person who has been a victim of a character assassination or personal dignity find their mistake of trusting someone  too unforgiving that they sometimes lose their ability to sufficiently recharge their own emotions of love, faith, belief etc.  Yet with time on their side and the power of love on the other  people will erase the memories of the past mistakes and give themselves a second chance. The biggest mistake one can ever make is the mistake of not getting up when one stumbles; for if one remains on the ground one can never go anywhere but six feet down.

Remember: “All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.”  Winston Churchill

Try these:

  1. Recollect the 3 monumental mistakes you have made in your life. If you had a second chance how  would you have insulated yourself against committing such a mistake? What is the most important lesson you learned from these mistakes?
  2. Try and recall the stupidest mistake you made in the following cases:
  • In an examination
  • In a relationship
  • Travel goof up
  • Written communication
  • When you were really annoyed

Do you feel embarrassed by the recollection of any of the above events?

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Personal Progress

The great thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving. Oliver Wendell Holmes

Many of us must be reasonably happy that we have a comfortable life, possibly a reasonable bank balance and a harmonious family life.  Yet there could be times when we find ourselves restless, rudderless and rootless causing both anguish and distress because we are unable to pin point the exact cause of our frustrations. Our frustrations are not so much of our fear of the future as much as it is because we are unable to chart our progress in a planned, focused and goal bound manner. For the fortunate few, life will go on in a serene and placid way even if they do nothing, but they will always be frustrated by their inability to effectively leverage their time and talents.

The biggest frustration for people is their inability to identify and define their personal goals in life. Some goals look too intimidating, other goals look too insignificant, still others lack the flair and panache to sufficiently tantalize us but for the vast majority we are clueless as to what we really want to achieve. To compound our problems, we undervalue our personal strengths, over emphasize our perceived weakness, constantly worry about the hand that fate will deal us in the days to come and are forever looking around us to see what others have and what we don’t. In this rigmarole of lack of confidence, insecurity and envy of others we lose focus on the future we need to chalk out for our self fulfillment and instead let ourselves into believing that our future is preordained and that we cannot alter it. This is both a safe and convenient option but unfortunately a very frustrating option.

One effective way to chalk out our future is to set a long term tangible goal, align it with a personal passion and a lofty ideal while never losing sight of our strengths, weaknesses and potential. This will ensure that you are pragmatic in setting up your goal, realistic in chalking out the direction of your life and insulate yourself against frustrations and disappointments along the way because a personal passion is involved and a lofty ideal eggs you on. A long term goal must always be supplemented by short term goals that ensure that one is on track, helps one be motivated by monitoring the progress and facilitates realignment of goals if needed by reviewing the progress.

A sense of achievement is perhaps the greatest motivation for the human race. The conquests of the kings of ancient times were an expression of this inner urge that directed their actions. If Alexander the Great took pride in conquering the world, King Ashoka was motivated by a desire to give it all up to follow his heart. Take a wide spectrum of people be it athletes, scientists, politicians or film stars the common thread that binds all of them is their quest to attain recognition for their achievements. We too crave to be recognized for our achievements big or small. Setting our course towards those activities that give us a great high and sense of achievement would perhaps be another effective way of ensuring personal progress and success.

Remember: “In no direction that we turn do we find ease or comfort. If we are honest and if we have the will to win we find only danger, hard work and iron resolution.”  Wendell L. Willkie

Try these:

  1. Irrespective of what age you are evaluate the progress of your life in 20 year spans i.e upto the age of 20, from 20-40, from 40-60 and beyond. Recollect your childhood dreams/ goals and see if you went close to attaining it. Ask yourself why you are where you are today. Is it because you didn’t set the direction right or because you lost steam on the way or were you indecisive and slipshod on the way? Also ask yourself how you can realign your goals and reset the course of your life forward.
  2. Jot down specific details of what would have made you/  will make you happy if you had to specify the following for the various 20 year spans of your life.
  • Money (how much) at the age of 20, 40, 60,80
  • House (describe your  ideal house)
  • Spouse (describe him/her)
  • Job (as much details of it you have in mind)
  • Personal non professional activity (like charity/ playing golf/ teaching the under privileged etc.)

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Coping with adjustments

There are things I can’t force.  I must adjust. C.M. Ward

Life rarely goes the way we plan it out and never goes the way we would like it to go.  This unpredictability of life is what enriches our living because each day comes with its fresh bouquet of roses and of course each rose comes with a stem of thorns too. While we would all love to have just the rose without getting a prick, and preferably ensure that it remains fresh forever we are reconciled to fact that this can never happen. It becomes easy for us to focus on the beauty of the rose and try to be careful handling it. Despite this if we get pricked, we blame our carelessness and possibly use a vase to put the rose in but rarely do we reject the rose because we get a prick or two. This is an adjustment we do because we would love to enjoy the fragrance, freshness and beauty of the flower. Substitute life for flower and we see that the daily hassles, the sudden upheavals, the occasional calamities that rear its ugly head are but mere small pricks or large pricks but Life itself is wonderful.

In reality, there are many times when the stress and pain are too much to bear. If we pause to study this torturous phenomena carefully, we will realize that the pain and hurt are primarily because we are fighting the irreversible mentally and not accepting the harsh reality. Denial is often the first stage of facing the bitter truth. If we are diagnosed with a major or irreversible illness, we first try to rationalize why the diagnose is possibly incorrect simply because we refuse to accept the reality. Denial can take many forms. Some of us underplay the reality, others mask their emotions, in extreme cases people would pretend to be more cheerful and exuberant outwardly while becoming nervous wrecks internally for the mind and body are in conflict. Once we can accept the reality, we can attempt to tackle the problem and immediately even the problem seems to shrink in size mentally. This is major adjustment that all of us have to constantly keep making.

Self belief is the key to making the right adjustment. Many a time we refuse to adjust because our ego won’t permit us to accept the reality or because we cannot imagine the future in an altered state than what we originally foresaw. When we have self belief we let our personal confidence become the vital ingredient that substitutes for all that we have lost in the altered state. Eg. If a person has lost a limb in an accident accepting that becomes very difficult if one sees themselves as being invalid or dependent. No sooner the person realizes that it is only an inconvenience that one can cope up with, the person has immediately have taken the road to adjustment. Creativity and persistence are the two legs on which most adjustments are successfully made. Any adjustment means a change and alteration and for it to be effective one has to be both creative and persistent. E.g. the first person who made a bicycle and rode it must have fallen quite a few times before managing to balance it. Today the kids do it easily despite falling because they have seen others ride a cycle and so know it can be done. The first person never had that benefit. In life the adjustments we make are like that of the first bicycle rider for we have to find out own way forward for no two individuals would have identical adjustments to be made.

Remember: “Happiness comes from… some curious adjustment to life.”  Hugh Walpole

Try these:

  1. Read the brief overview on denial by clicking this link
  2. Make a plan for the week and very detailed plan for tomorrow. Tomorrow evening review the day and see how many things went as per you plan and how many adjustments you had to make. Also examine which was the most painful or difficult adjustment to make. At the end of the week do a similar review. Also ask yourself if there were roadblocks in your plan that could have been easily avoided if you didn’t let your ego come in the way.

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Being content

He has enough who is contented with little. Anon

Contentment is the one contentious issue that is at the heart of most human problems be it relationships, personal illness or simply being happy. For proof simply revisit the 7 deadly sins of Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed and Sloth and you will making a startling discovery that each of these sins is a result of lack of contentment. This is the right time for each of us to also pause and introspect as to what is it that will bring us contentment and peace. Words like more money, better job, an ideal spouse etc. are too vague and can at best be compared to a shadow not a clear blue print of what we seek.  How often has it occurred to us that we go to a restaurant and after placing our order see the waiter serving something looking more yummy on the neighboring table and then we crave for what is not ours. Contentment can begin only if we are clear in our mind and heart as to what we really want.

We are very indecisive about our choices simply because we have too many choices and each looks more appealing than the next.  How many of us own more than one watch? To tell the time one watch is more than enough yet there are many of us who would love to own more watches. The mobile phone is perhaps a more apt example in today’s context since we are fascinated by the features and style, rarely pausing to think if we would utilize anything more than the basic functions for 95% of our time. Too many choices therefore tempt us, trigger emotions of need and want finally ending up in us succumbing to our emotions.  A study of people buying at duty free shops at the airport lounges are an eye opener for in addition to the choices there is the lure of ‘duty free’ and the pride of premium shopping being done. Noting can be more ironic than seeing a teetotaler buy his quota of liquor simply because that is the done thing and is often flaunted to guests who like a nip or two.

The most content people are those who are pragmatic and limit their needs. This is done by the reverse process of accepting what is available with gratefulness and good cheer instead of actively seeking choices and then trying to match it to meet our emotional need and our financial wherewithal.  In a world that is consumer centric, marketing and advertisement driven and designed to lure the gullible, the temptations are too strong to be suppressed. There are other pressures too like social pressure, family pressures, emotional needs that fuel our desires and wants and the net result is that we pacify our desires without being content. In the days of yore, the most content people would perhaps have been the religious leaders and gurus for they chose to limit their wants and found that they attained bliss thereafter. Even that bastion is now crumbling and only a very conscious awareness can help us outline our bare necessities and thereafter we can enjoy the fruits of contentment.

Remember: “True contentment depends not upon what we have; a tub was large enough for Diogenes, but a world was too little for Alexander.” Charles Caleb Colton

Try this:

  1. Do a little spring cleaning and try to get rid of the accumulated stuff that you have never utilized during the past 6 months or those which you will never use in the future. It could be footwear, clothing, greeting cards, watches etc. Many a time some items would have sentimental value but if you really cross your heart most accumulated things are kept because we can’t bear to part with it.
  2. If your best friend coveted something that you own that you are passionate about but has little sentimental value would you spontaneously gift it to your friend? Eg. You have a very beautiful picture frame that you purchased because you loved it when you saw it. Now you friend admires it longingly and expresses a wish to own it. Will you gift it spontaneously?

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Taking chances

Dear Friends

Thrilled to be back after a short holiday in the very scenic Republic of Ireland. It has been both a very invigorating and enriching experience. I am very happy to note that in the intervening period the number of followers of this blog has risen to 190.

Thank you for continued patronage of this blog and I would be delighted to have your comments on the blogs as also any other feedback that you would like to share. Should you believe that the contents of the blog would be appreciated and benefit your friends and contacts do feel free to share the links with them.

You are also welcome to write in to with any suggestions or quotes that you would like me to write on. As of date I am continuing the daily blog using the quote for 24th Sept 2010



Necessity is the mother of taking chances. Mark Twain

It is human nature to be cautious and that perhaps explains why many of us prefer to follow the beaten path. It is equally true that our egos won’t permit us to fail and that adds to the pressure on us to stick to the tried and tested rather than risk trying out something new and not succeeding. What we fail to appreciate is that in our anxiety to keep our image in tact we actually miss out on numerous opportunities albeit fraught with possibilities of failure. Fortunately for us life opens us immense possibilities even though quite often these possibilities come dressed in the garb of necessity.

Most inventions and discoveries were because life forced us to seek out answers to apparently irresolvable problems be it finding cures for deadly diseases or finding alternative energy sources. It is at these critical junctions when the road we take could be fraught with danger, blind alleys and / or be a mine field of challenges. Yet the fact is that when standing at these cross roads we have to take a calculated risk and plod forward in hope and faith. In the cross roads of life, we are given multiple choices and forced into exercising our choice, leaving us with no option to back track.

What is interesting is that quite often when we are forced by circumstances to take chances, we suddenly dig deep into our inner reserves and discover that we often undervalued our abilities and our strengths. The discovery of these rich resources within us not emboldens us but also spurs us to see the numerous possibilities where we once were very skeptical and reluctant to consider such possibilities worthy of success. Calculated risks are then something that is both well thought out and meticulously planned, there by increasing the chances of success.

Subconsciously the risk profile that emerges triggers both confidence in ourselves and we begin to visualize success as a natural outcome of our endeavor to which we have committed. Faith and hope are the two legs on which people march forward into the future. While faith is a manifestation of self belief, hope is what provides us the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel and gravitates us into action. It is interesting to note that we can experiment and take chances with our daily chores finding better alternatives, solutions to problems and perhaps even come out with some new inventions and discoveries. In a fast paced world we rarely have the luxury of asking ourselves the 5W’s and 1H and using these are props to stimulate our thinking and let out creative juices flow freely. When life pushes us to a corner then it is the necessities that caresses, cajoles and confront us to take chances and it is only when we stop trying that we don’t succeed.

Remember: “He who risks and fails can be forgiven. He who never risks and never fails is a failure in his whole being. Paul Tillich

Try these:

  1. Take a daily newspaper and go to the page that has a ‘fun time’ column consisting og Crosswords, Sudoko, Word play etc. Perhaps you have never tried some of them. You have to attempt these for one week at least even if you find it hard, challenging or near impossible to do. Don’t hesitate to ask others to help you understand how to get going.
  2. Write down your passion (something which is more than merely watching TV or sleeping). Go around and try to connect with resources be it people, books, exhibitions etc that will enable you to elevate your passion to something of an even superlative degree. E.g. You love to paint. Find out about the techniques of the great masters, the varied styles, the emerging trends in art etc.

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No gain without pain

Dear Readers

At the outset let me thank all of you for regularly reading my blog (as on date there are 176 followers too who get this blog in their email inbox) and for your valuable comments and feedback.  As I am traveling out of the country for around 2 weeks, this blog may not be updated till 24th Sept.10.

I would request you to please bear up with this break. However this offers you a good chance to catch up with some of the older posts…there are 250 odd posts to choose from. In addition you can also visit our weekly posts in I   am sure you find the posts refreshing, relaxing and rejuvenating. Do spare time to also post your comments which are both a motivator and a reality check for me.

Thank you for your patronage of this blog.


If you want a place in the sun, you’ve got to put up with a few blisters. Abigail Van Buren

Each of us craves to be acknowledged, if possible recognized and we would be delighted if we are perceived as successful icons. We would like to be on the highest rung of the pecking order and should we be lucky and talented then ideally we would like to call all the shots. In short, each of us seeks to have a place in the sun; high up, shining bright and basking in glory. However there are no shortcuts to achieving these accolades and with rare exceptions every single idol be it our heroes on screen, on the sporting field, our politicians, business leaders or our parents have worked hard, suffered in their own way and triumphed over many odds. They can recount the blisters they have had to painfully endure just to be up there.

The three most important qualities that catapult us to managing a place in the sun are hard work, diligence and resilience. Each of those qualities have a major bearing in ensuring that we remain focused, never wavering and are passionate about what we seek to achieve. It is this passion that will ultimately gives us the strength to keep going when we have to face challenges, unexpected hurdles and painful realities. Hard work is not just plodding along but going about our task putting in all our intellectual and physical effort. The jargon smart work has replace hard work  but in reality it requires a lot of hard work to identify how to be smart enough to get work done from others or to simplify the task on hard.

Diligence is all about being attentive, careful, meticulous and conscientious. The objective is to ensure that effort is never wasted by minimizing errors, following standard operating procedures and delivering results within the allotted time frame. Some would argue that mechanization is the perfect answer to ensure perfect diligence but what we fail to appreciate is that diligence is not rote but intelligent action that involves varied managerial skills too like decision making and effective leadership. Resilience is the one quality that needs courage of conviction, tenacity of purpose and a very strong will. It is the one quality that is an insurance against failure. Most people never realize their full potential because they lack the resilience to overcome setbacks. They lack both the energy and the will to recoup and launch a fresh assault to attain success.

In chasing our dreams we would get hurt, be ridiculed, our abilities and wisdom questioned, our enthusiasm dampened by critics and worse of all we could be plagued by self doubt. Each of these are blisters that we have to accept, adjust too and suffer if we really want to make a place for ourselves in the sun.

Remember: Where there is a will there is a way

Try this:

  1. Identify a couple of successful individuals known to you. Try and meet them and ask them to share their most trying moments in their life. Ask them what kept them going and how they managed to face the odds stacked against them. Ask yourself if there are any lessons for yourself in it.
  2. Make a list of activities that you passionately wanted to achieve but never even go around beginning.  Ask yourself what prevented you from achieving your passion. Is there a way out of those problems today or you have simply given up on those passions?

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Be creative…visualize the future

Who is the wise man?  He who sees what’s going to be born. Solomon

Those people who are blessed with the ability to anticipate changes and ride the wave invariably end up being successful. Perhaps there are many of us who on hindsight state that they too could see the changes coming; alas that is not enough. It takes not just good understanding but courage of conviction to act upon the understanding if one needs to succeed. The stock markets are resplendent with examples of gigantic successes and colossal failures too almost all of it the result of future predictions. The ability to visualize is a combination of sound knowledge, good analysis and an ability to telescope this to the future and create the picture of the future in the mind.

Man’s progress from caveman to modern man has been made possible because of the human ability to visualize. Many a time visualization has been forced up on us; like when we have to find out or invent solutions to cope with our problems. As it is rightly said Necessity is the mother of all inventions. The ubiquitous wheel is believed to have been mans first invention. From such primitive inventions to the present day communication revolution be it the internet or the mobile phones man has transcended both time and distance in unimaginable ways. If we ponder over this journey of mans visualization we come to the irrefutable reality that if we can dream it we can achieve it.

The vast majority of the population if quizzed as to their creativity and visualization quotient will ruefully confess that they are very poor in it. If you are one of them who feels that you are not fortunate to be gifted with the ability to see beyond and anticipate, take heart from the reality that it is just because you have not honed those skills. While not all of us can be superlative in honing this skill, we can definitely attempt to cultivate the skill so that we are far better off than what we are today.  The first step is to change our mindset and make it more positive and receptive to deal with confusion. Look at all the problems as challenges for you to over overcome. In reality every problem is an opportunity for in the solution to the problem lies the value that someone can harness.  The next step is to develop the ability to be calm, cool and composed no matter what the emergency or crisis is. One can think rationally only when one is not excited, worried or desperate. When under stress the mind is always darting about feverishly trying to find an escape route. Escapism is the not the answer to our problems; it is effective resolution of the problem that one must search for if we want to have a pragmatic and result oriented solution. The third step is to freely explore, vividly imagine and shamelessly attempt. This is the toughest part since our schooling has made us overtly logical thinkers and so our mind is weighted down by the need to have correct answers, simplified straight forward thought process and we find it hard to break out of our shackles of disciplined thought. It also stands to reason therefore that we would never attempt anything that is vague, unstructured or illogical. Breaking out of that mould needs a radical change in our approach and that is the beginning of creative thinking.

Remember: “Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” Mary Lou Cook

Try this:

  1. List out the 5 most creative solutions / outputs that you have ever generated in your life. For each one ask if the solution was a result of having to solve a problem or it was the urge to create something or it was checking out a hypothesis or it was inner urge that you wanted to express.
  2. If you had to choose from one watch from the following 3 watches which one would you choose and why.  (See the logical answer in the next post)
  • A watch that is 5 minutes slow
  • A dead watch
  • A watch that is 10 minutes fast.

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Keep marching forward

I may be walking slowly, but I never walk backward. Abraham Lincoln

As we prepare to face the daily challenges of everyday living, there are times when we feel frustrated and demoralized particularly when things don’t go our way. At these times we are confused, angry and hurt that life is not fair to us and we are sorely tempted to simply surrender to our fate and accept life as it comes. In extreme cases we might think of taking some drastic measures like suicide or attempting some illegal means to attain our dreams. These are the times when we almost succumb to the pressures and begin to contemplate walking backwards and perhaps leaving only behind shattered dreams.

Fortunately the large majority of us are pragmatic, rational and resolute and so we stop to evaluate the reality. This is like taking a break from a long walk; helps you rest, enables you to refocus and gives you time to realign your goals. It is important to realize that we are not the only ones having a set of complaints, troubles or, grief. This itself should strengthen our resolve to fight back and face the challenges squarely. Take the case of a world class player who is plagued with injury, loss of form and lack of confidence. Nothing can get worse for the person except perhaps personal tragedy . If the player has seen the heights of success, these trying times are the inflection points where he/ she can give it all up. Yet if there is a will and the resolve to overcome the problems the person will find the right mentor/ coach to guide and direct the training and regain the lost form, confidence and peak performance.

Sometimes we are too overwhelmed to accept the reality and we become escapists. We undervalue our abilities, perform to mere bare acceptable standards, have a string of excuses to cover up in case of below par performance and refuse to take on responsibility while all the while retaining the right to be critical. These are situations where we may not be walking backwards but we have simply stopped moving. Such stagnation stunts our abilities, our desires and our potential. The solution here is to accept the fact that some realities can’t be changed and the sooner we adapt to the change the better it is for us to grow in life. We would need to learn from the lives of war veterans who may have been seriously maimed or handicapped in combat. Their fruitful years cut short in their prime yet their zeal and enthusiasm is never diminished.

In the ultimate analysis, no matter what the reality is, for our own self realization, self fulfillment and personal growth, we need to keep walking, marching ahead with a goal in mind, a song in our hearts and a prayer on our lips so that the journey is pleasant, fruitful and heartwarming.  It is rightly said that when the going is though the tough get going.

Remember: When I walk backwards it is usually for a long jump. Carl Lewis – International Champion long jumper.

Try this:

  1. See this video and notice the backward walk of Carl Lewis right in the start when he is focusing before his run and takeoff
  2. See if you can list the times in your life when you walked backwards and refused to take up a challenge or did not venture to attempt something out of your comfort zone. It could be the first time you were asked to speak in public or when you participated in a group dance and couldn’t keep step with the rest . Did you regret it? Did you avoid pursuing your passion because you thought it too risky to give you your livelihood?

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