Category: Certainty

What is meant to be will always find its way

What is meant to be will always find its way

As we approach the last month of the year, there is a tendency to look back at the year gone by and reminiscence about the good, the bad and the ugly that happened to us. There would be moments of pain that we recall, there would be ecstatic moments which send our spirits soaring high and there would be some frustrations that are irritating to recall. However, what we find toughest to cope with are the moments of regrets that overwhelm us; we desperately wish then that we could turn the clock back and redo things differently. This lingering feeling of haplessness; of missing out on opportunities to change our destiny keep haunting us for a much longer time. In this time of reminiscence, one must also keep in mind the reality that ‘what is meant to be will always find its way’ just as in the picture above, the quaint flowers bloom along a forlorn, deserted, almost arid sidelines of the railway track.

Once we awaken to this profound truth that ‘what is meant to be will always find its way’ we would be less delusional, more practical and certainly more optimistic that the best is yet to come. This in no way means that you can sit back and wait for good fortune to parachute into your life. Instead, it is an exhortation that we must continue to give of our best and the fruits of our labor will be sweet and plentiful, when the time comes. The year gone by would have had its shares of ups and downs but our focus must be on the highs in our life, the hopes that we have for the times ahead and we must inbuilt in us, the ability to visualize the fruits of success. Dreams give you a reason to aspire, a focus to aim at and a pinnacle to scale. Life will no longer be arid, parched and infertile. We will plant the seeds of hope, water it with faith, nurture it with diligence and reap the fruits in abundance.

Patience is the one virtue that each one must cultivate. No seed sprouts overnight to grow into a plant. Similarly, all our actions, our sacrifices our energies will bear fruit only when the time is ripe. Of course, it is assumed that we align our actions with reality and not dig wells where there is no semblance of water. It is also good to keep in mind that often we are bestowed with what we can really cope with, manage efficiently and accept with good cheer. Plant seeds of hope, faith and good cheer in your heart and let your mind and body help you plough your life ahead. When the time comes, gather the flowers, fruits and produce and share it. You will receive what you deserve sooner than later. It may not be in a form or shape that you expect but it is yours for the picking if you look for it.

Try these:           

  • List names of 5 people who you know personally. One must be a family member, the other a colleague, an acquaintance, a neighbor and a person who assists you in some way (house help / liftman / security guard/ gardener etc.)
  • Can you recollect the best moment you had last week. What do you think will be the most wonderful thing that can happen to you before the month end?
  • If someone gifted you Rs.1,000 what will you do with it before the month end?
  • How will you view things if your wallet got stolen and it had Rs.5,000?

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Chasing dreams

“For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” Vincent van Gogh

As we journey through life we are prone to fall into the trap of pessimism, get struck in the rut, believe that failure is an irrevocable tragedy and therefore we do not take courage to think beyond the confines of our perceived abilities and domain.  We are myopic in our thinking, our visualization and our risk taking perception when we get pessimistic and nervous. Yet when we have the urge to think radically, see things differently and imagine possibilities we just need to look at the stars in the galaxy that twinkle surreptitiously and taunt us to aspire to reach the skies like them. While there can be only one moon, there are a million stars that beckon us to chase our dreams and be up there and sparkle every night.

One of the reasons we fear dreaming is that we want to be sure that our dreams will materialize. This is but a catch 22 situation because dreams materialize once we start chasing it. As a result we think small, minimize risks and believe we have limited talents and abilities. On the other hand if we set out to achieve our dreams, then we have at least got started and then we can gather momentum. The other reason we are hesitant to chase our dreams is that we lack the foresight to visualize the scale and success of any dream. We tend to automatically scale our dreams down and then come to the bitter conclusion that it is not worth chasing. We miss out on so many opportunities that way.

Once bitten twice shy is the old adage that is the bane of dream chasers. While failure is hurtful and perhaps very shocking to our psyche, our temptation to succumb to that failure and refusal to attempt again is the real loss for us. We tend to worry, lose confidence in ourselves and worst of all blame ourselves for failure. In this process we are neither objective in analyzing the causes of failure nor are we daring thereafter. No pain no gain is another saying that aptly summarizes the inability of people to chase dreams. Anyone who chases a dream knows that the possibility of failure is embedded in that decision.  Yet most times we try hard to cover all the bases only to realize that competition has got  a head start over us or that we have depleted our resources on frivolous ring fencing exercise. We must have the daring to take chances and calculate risks if we have to achieve our dreams.

Look again at the stars and then we make the profound discover that despite their miniscule size as we see it from here, their light twinkles and catches our attention. We are also aware that they are size able and light years away from us and yet they draw our attention to them. If we look carefully we might even see patterns in them and we know that for centuries the North Star was the traveler’s guide and companion. Can we take inspiration from the stars and find our own north star in our hearts, and map out our own success plans and begin our march towards achieving our dreams?

Remember: “Dreams are like stars…you may never touch them, but if you follow them they will lead you to your destiny.

Try this:

  1. What are your three dreams for this world you live in? Now how can you contribute to those dreams? E.g. Save tigers is your dream. Are you spreading this message? Are you contributing or raising resources for it? Have you adopted a tiger in the local zoo?
  2. Write down your dreams for the following and after that ask yourself what are you doing to achieve it
  • Dream house
  • Dream job
  • Dream holiday

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Going the whole hog

If you aren’t going all the way, why go at all? Joe Namath

One problem that plagues the vast majority of us, is our inability to keep pace with the requirements of a task and as a result we often give up midway. For many of us who are out of shape there comes a point in time when we are acutely aware of the need to get back in shape. In desperation we then plan to indulge in some sort of physical exercise regime which we begin with great gusto. A few days into the routine, we have all sorts of problems most of it imaginary that gives us a convenient excuse to miss the planned routine. Soon we give it up as a lost cause. Perhaps something similar happens when we try to learn something new be it a game, a dance style, a new academic learning etc.

The problem of not going all the way is not limited to our efforts at something new. On a day to day basis too we display this tendency to be partially interested in what we do. To begin with we never try to make a list of tasks to be attended to and more often than not simply forget the most crucial tasks. We then make solemn promises to make lists but the lists never see the light of day. Some days we are just fed up with a our life style and propose to make drastic changes in it. Yet a year down the line but for some cosmetic changes, we lead the same lifestyle and remain just as frustrated. We plan to save a certain sum each month and before the month is over we are broke and there is no surplus for saving.

There are various reasons why we do not manage to complete the voyage that we have flagged off with much fanfare. The very first problem is lack of adequate planning. With half baked ideas, sketchy details, an unclear goal/objective and inadequate resources all contribute to the abortion of the plans.  The next problem is lack of self belief. There are times we begin a task because of pressure from others be it peers, family or friends.  Other times we simply do not believe that we can succeed and so give up at the first major hurdle. Some are sensitive to criticism while others are too rigid and dogmatic making the going tough for themselves. These people throw in the towel more in disgust at the system they have to battle but never realizing that it is their own personal weakness that is the cause. Finally many people just don’t have the motivation to continue till the end. People who begin a task just to keep up with the joneses or those who take a path that has just be pointed out to them or the vast majority who get distracted along the way by the lure of other options all end up losing the plot and never scaling the peak of success.

Remember: “Success is largely a matter of holding on after others have let go”

Try these:

  1. Choose between learning 3 new card games or 2 new magic tricks. Try to learn the card tricks or magic tricks within a span of 2 months at the most. You must be able to do it with panache in front of an audience and draw loud applause for it.
  2. What do you think is the motivation for me to write this blog every single day? Do you have a similar challenge in mind that you still haven’t dared to attempt? Can you attempt that task successfully before the year is out?

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Risk and daring

Unless you enter the tiger’s den, you cannot take the cubs. Japanese proverb

It takes more than just raw courage to take on risky challenges. While raw courage will trigger action, it is a passionate self belief and longing that is at the heart of any risky venture. Strangely enough most of our attempts at something new and different is similar to entering a tigers den to take the cubs. After all there must be a tangible purpose to the effort and a clear strategy to accomplish the task. If the risk is high the payoff must be much larger and the probability of success reasonably assured else taking risk is either foolhardy or outrageously stupid.

A risk averse life is bland and placid with hardly any accomplishments and even less celebration.  Many a diligent employee would perhaps fall in this category for the simple reason that they merely follow orders, meet targets and don’t yearn for change. On the contrary, even the, lowliest employee who  dares to cross the threshold of his/ her job description dares will feel a sense of elation that he / she has taken on some risks and enjoyed the experience. In fact it is when we are prepared to step out of our comfort zone that we get new experiences that would include failures too. Visualize a fresh MBA on his first sale job and making his first call. He is kept waiting despite an appointment, gets irritated because he is in danger of missing the next confirmed appointment and has got two calls from existing customers who are furious that his predecessor has not sent in the supplies promised. Not a very pleasant experience for the first day;  yet at end of day he can look back and note how he managed each situation and also gains the confidence that the next day can’t get worse.

Contrasting this is the trigger happy person who thinks he/ she is playing a game of ‘Fear Factor’ everyday. They get bored with the routine, seek out challenges and pursue it with a vengeance.  Unfortunately many of them bite of more than what they can chew and end up hungry and frustrated. It is not they lack the spirit or don’t have the right attitude.  Their problem pertains to lack of planning, short term goals and inability to sustain their motivation levels. Poor listening skills, abrasive behavior and a purely goal centric approach are often hall marks of such boorish people. While they often do produce results they end up severing relationships, foul up possibilities of repeat business and end up believing that meeting challenges and taking risks is the be all and end of life. What they fail to appreciate is that they can never sustain their momentum over an extended period and that is when the slide starts.

If life is to be a perfect one every day must bring in fresh challenges. One must evaluate the risks and reward and then be realistic about one’s ability to take it on before one plunges into it heart and soul. At the same time being too cautious, risk averse and avoiding any form of risk makes life dull, boring and  wasted.  Poetically speaking ’ it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.’

Remember: “Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash.” General George S. Patton

Try this:

  1. Attempt a task that you always fancied doing but never chanced. Eg. Filing your nomination papers for a local election or learning a new style of dancing or Writing a letter to the editor on a topic you feel very strongly about
  2. List out three challenges that you backed out from. Can you recollect the actually reasons for backing out.  On hindsight did you act like a coward or did you take a rational decision even If it meant losing face at that moment.

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The only certainty is that nothing is certain. Pliny, the Elder

It is sobering thought that all our mighty plans are subject to uncertainty. This reality will help us temper our urges and help us prioritize more rationally and realistically. That is one of the greatest advantages of the hard reality that nothing is certain. One of the rare certainties in life is death and yet how many of us are prepared for it. Unless diagnosed with a life threatening illness, we would rather make plans for the future where we will live in than prepare for a future without the possibility of us being there. Part of the reason for such a line of thinking is because we would like to avoid all negative thoughts and that apart we often look at death as something happening to others. True, there is uncertainty about when we will die.

If you are alarmed, the good news is that uncertainty also provides hope. There is nothing certain about your life style or future; in fact it can turn much better. Who knows you might hit the jackpot if at all you buy a lottery ticket or your next job might be your dream job.  Optimism, faith and hope are the 3 corners of the triangle called life. Even if you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, if you simply hold on to any or all of these corners of the triangle of life and do not give up you will be able to visualize the light within you and the tunnel is no longer dark.

When nothing is certain, it also means that changes will happen for the better or the worse. The challenge for us is to grasp the changes that suit us best and let go of the others which might be more alluring but really risky. E.g. A challenge for any professional sportsman is to decide when to retire from the sport. Endorsements and income could be tantalizing but will the body and spirit be able to cope up is the question. The future at this point may look uncertain but one can prudently switch to other options like coaching being a commentator, look at staring own sports academy etc. The take away here is that uncertainty can be very positive for it holds out ample scope for new growth and success.

Remember: “The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.” Erich Fromm

Try these:

  1. Watch a magic show. You are certain there is a trick involved but uncertain how exactly the trick is performed. Attempt to understand how a certain trick is actually performed. Alternatively, attempt a few magic tricks yourself. First learn the trick, then practice it well and then attempt it on others. You will realize how it feels to be both uncertain and certain about your ability to perform and fool the audience.
  2. For a week track all the various jobs that are problematic for you to handle. Evaluate how many of such jobs were problematic because you were uncertain about how to tackle it or how to prioritize it. Eventually how did you get around the problem?

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Fanatic…who me?

A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.  Sir Winston Churchill

The word fanatic conjures images of dogmatic, inward looking, near crazy and deeply religious individuals who are filled with hate for the non believers, passionate about their own beliefs and committed to kill or be killed for their beliefs. While the stereo type of a fanatic is ideally caricatured in this mould, fanatics are not confined to the religious beliefs of people, although that is the most visible type of fanatic. The unfortunate part is that there are equally bad groups of fanatics, who in fact have a cult following be it sports fan followers, Maoists, naxalites or regional sons of the soil theory goons. They have a limited agenda in as much as they want to propound their beliefs on the population to the extent they can reach.

As is rightly said, they are so dogmatic that they wont see reason, they will be wedded to their cause, concoct facts to suit their beliefs and they are prepared to die for their beliefs. Most fanatics believe that dying for their cause is the ultimate proof of their staunch faith and a necessary sacrifice to attain their ultimate goal. Fear is the key to fanaticism. They fear their cause will be diluted if not enforced by hook or by crook; they use fear to ensure that everyone toes their line; they fear humiliation if they do not stand up for their beliefs and they ensure that fear of eternal damnation will psychological coercion the fence sitters and the non committal.

The strength of a fanatic is his/ her ability to creatively rationalize the available facts to suit their beliefs. Like the devil quoting the scriptures, they can refute logic and convince themselves by sheer pigheadedness. To reinforce their beliefs they will resort to continuously and incessantly talking on their beliefs partly to convince the available audience but chiefly to reinforce their own beliefs. The fanatic will blindly follow, relentlessly push his/ her agenda and would not hesitate to wipe out all those who cannot toe their line or those whom they perceive to be threats to their beliefs. The growing threat of religious fanaticism is what the new age paranoia is.

The weakness of the fanatic is ‘paranoia’. They fear divine retribution, they fear themselves being overrun by a majority, they fear injustice and annihilation and most of all they fear they might lose their faith in their own beliefs. Take the case of football fans of a football club. When they lose they blame the referees, the betting syndicates, the quality of play on the day etc. but they cannot get themselves to believe that they were outplayed by a superior team. Similarly if age old customs and practices which are irrational and illegal by the norms of modern society are banned by the authorities of the day, there would be stiff resistance by the fanatics who would rather follow tradition than be pragmatic and rational.

However much we may call ourselves rational we too very much guilty of being fanatics in our own ways; by being prisoners of superstitions, by our substantial belief in the occult science including horoscopes, palmistry and numerology, through our prejudices of caste, creed and color and by being clannish and parochial in our dealings and interactions.

Remember: “A fanatic is a man that does what he thinks the Lord would do if He knew the facts of the case.”

Try these:

  1. Ask yourself if you read your horoscope regularly. Why do you do it ? Can you completely avoid it?
  2. Jot down at  least 3 things you will be ready to die for. Why will you die for it? Do you thing you can do a better job for that cause without dying? If yes how can you do it and if not why do you say so.

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To be absolutely certain about something, one must know everything, or nothing, about it.  Olin Miller

Certainty implies that there is confidence about the facts and this is possible only when a person is an expert who knows the subject matter thoroughly. However in life we come across plenty of people who will pontificate with authority on varied topics particularly relating to matters that have universal appeal but very peripheral personal expertise. Politics, Sports, local governance, corruption, pollution, population etc. provide ample scope for pseudo thinkers to exercise their liberal thoughts on anyone who can be wooed as an audience.

When we find ourselves in a situation where we have to endure the company of others for long, the natural outcome is engaging in a conversation. This setting provides the fodder for participants to be overtly creative, sadistically depreciating and liberally argumentative; after all at the end of the day we are neither too wise about the matter nor too concerned and in running down the system and the governance we have derived pleasure and believe we have enlightened the audience. How often have we checked the credentials of people making very strong and radically statements or checked out their own adherence to their own view point. If you ask yourself about your views on bribes you would want the system to take stringent action in the matter but in the same breath we would not hesitate to give a bribe if things get speeded up. Most times we speak from an idealistic view point and not from the view point of expertise or practicality.

On the other hand when we are in the presence of an expert, we would get to know the subtle nuances of the subject and get rare insights based on the expertise of the person propounding the views. The next time you visit a specialist doctor observe his/ her style, content and advice. You will certainly comeback with a lot more knowledge, confidence and assurance. If you then share your experience with some lay people be it family members, friends or colleagues, more often than not they will contribute with their views mainly based on hearsay and peppered with personal bias. Observe your own reactions to these interactions; how keenly are you listening, how often are you mentally refuting the observations, do you display irritation and boredom etc.

As they say it takes all sorts to make up this world. So the experts and the ignorant all have their place under their sun and we cannot forget that at various times we also don both hats.

Remember: “If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts: but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” Francis Bacon, Sr

Try these:

  1. The next time you are with friends at a social event, pay close attention to the conversation going around. Pay attention to the people talking with passion and possible angst. How much of their contribution is meaningful, intelligent and relevant. How do they retort to those who drastically differ with their views?
  2. Choose 3 topics of your personal interest. Now try to identify 3 experts on each of those topics that you have heard of. Can you name at least 2 books or 2 videos that you can recommend to others interested in these topics?

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