The Self-Discipline Recipe

Hari and Gopal are 14 year old twin brothers staying in a posh bungalow at Koramangala, Bengaluru. They belong to an affluent Tamilian family hailing from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. Along with their parents, the lads are very close to their younger sister Rohini, four years younger to them.

Both brothers are excellent singers, and have been training in Hindustani Classical music since the age of 7. They come from a family of esteemed musicians, and their parents are very particular that the boys do not miss their classes and daily morning riyaaz.

Since Hari is an extrovert, he is more popular amongst his music teachers, friends and family. On the other hand, Gopal is more timid and takes time to open up with others. Both the brothers are equally talented and gifted singers.

The blokes recently participated in the state level Hindustani classical music competition, and were thrilled with the fact that they were shortlisted for the all India competition to be held in two months’ time. While Hari got the first prize (gold), Gopal got the (third prize) bronze. It was time to celebrate! The proud parents and Rohini threw a big bash for them.

Hari was ecstatic at the praise and recognition he was showered upon by all his fans on television. He started spending a lot of time on the newly created facebook page, whatsapp chats with friends, and reading love letters received from his female fans. Instead of the daily 4 hour riyaaz, he was able to only train only for 2 hours. Due to frequent parties and outings, he was unable to stick to the satvik meal recommendations by his gurus. Gopal on the other hand, used to lock himself in his room and immersed himself in riyaaz. He was very particular about what he ate, and kept sipping on hot water throughout the day.

The week of the much awaited competition finally arrived. Sixty eight participants from India mesmerized the judges and the audience. The results came as a surprise to a lot of people. While Gopal got the All India Silver medal (first runner up), Hari was eliminated in the initial rounds and ended up at  12th spot.

What happened? Why did Hari lose out despite having the initial edge, and being one of the favorites in the competition. The only term that can explain this result is Self-discipline. While Hari got complacent and lost his sense of discipline, Gopal became more determined to be better at his singing.

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It is imperative to have a vision for your life and then work towards achieving the same. Self – discipline is about consistency and is the first step toward greatness. It is the biggest stumbling block for most non-champions.

Given below are seven simple points to reach our desired vision:

  1. Write down a vision for every area of your life
  2. Document goals that you must achieve to reach your vision
  3. Commit to a to do list based on these goals
  4. Prepare for challenges and roadblocks that would come your way in the process
  5. Motivate yourself to attain these goals by winning over these challenges to finally achieve your vision
  6. Celebrate the success
  7. Move towards a higher vision (in the same area or another area of your life)

Your vision must be crystal clear. If you are all alone moving towards your vision, so be it. In our daily lives, committing ourselves to sleeping on time, waking up early, meditating, engaging in physical exercise, eating healthy, reading and praying are a few habits essential to move from good to great. By constant self-discipline and self-control you can develop greatness of character – Grenville Kleiser

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We must start with baby steps. Just as it takes time to build muscles, so does it take time to develop self-discipline. So, begin by taking the decision to go forward and learning what it takes to get there.

Self-discipline is the ability to control one’s impulses, emotions, desires and behavior. In many cases the barrier to success is people’s lack of self-discipline to commit to a plan that requires consistent and sometimes strenuous actions. In a modern setting, there are many forces competing for our attention and distracting us from doing what is important (mobile phones, internet, socializing, television, social media, instant messaging platforms like Whatsapp, BBM are a few examples). In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves… self-discipline with all of them came first – Harry S Truman

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While we are on the journey to success, we must continue until our daily tasks become habits. It takes around 6 weeks for a task to become a habit and get engrained in our subconscious mind. Vision demands self-discipline. No vision is achieved without self-discipline. Jim Rohn puts it so aptly when he said that “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments”. The result is not only the satisfaction from a sense of accomplishment, but the journey itself to get there.  The higher you go in life, the higher self-discipline is required to sustain your achievements.

There is a discipline required for becoming excellent in any profession or area of life. Self-discipline will set you apart from the competition and place you on the pathway to success. We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort. – Jesse Owens. It all depends on how much importance we give to our dreams/ visions and how much we strive to achieve them. We must move out of our self-created fear zones, and move forward with courage knowing that the Almighty is with you.

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I would like to conclude by giving you the recipe to Self-Discipline! Ingredients – (i) magnificent vision, (ii) unlimited dreams, (iii) achievable goals, (iv) good habits, (v) positive motivation. Mix these ingredients and garnish with a dash of self-control, consistency, courage and commitment. Serve daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner; and get set to treat your taste-buds with the tastiest dish ever. You’ll come back for more – I guarantee!!!

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Sound of Silence

While I was meditating one evening, staring into infinity, away from the tensions and chores of life, enjoying the solitude, a word struck me like lightning – SILENCE. It was as though the universe instructed me to stay in a state of silence. No words, no actions, no sound, no activity. Complete SILENCE. I remained there for an hour. It was bliss!

When there are no sounds discernible to the external ear, our inner voice speaks to us. And, it is this inner voice that creates an opportunity for us to pause and reflect on situations/ issues. Have you ever wondered, when you are on a long walk by yourself, or in a quiet place, that clarity has a way of flooding in? Solutions to the most difficult challenges emerge in this silence. “Listen to yourself, and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God” – Maya Angelou

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Silence augments our inner strength, sharpens intellect, keeps one in a happy frame of mind and invokes happiness. One of the reasons why many people nowadays seem to live in a state of dissatisfaction is because they’ve lost touch with the natural happiness inside them. Perhaps silence is a neglected tool because it is so rare. After all, we live in a hyper-connected, loud, information overloaded world. Everyone is short of time, running from one chore to another. Ultimately, how much time we have is not in our control; but how we fill our time is surely within our control. A few minutes of Silence every day, is all we need to un-clutter our minds from the noise of the world. Here we will find a lot of solutions. “Silence is sometimes the best answer” – Dalai Lama

However, silence is not about just keeping the mouth shut. It is an attitude – a state of mind. The universe is waiting to give us answers, but will we listen? We are so busy blabbering unwanted stuff, that we don’t give a chance to the higher powers to connect with us. “In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.” – Mahatma Gandhi

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We often talk a lot of unnecessary stuff, which ultimately results in tensions / negative situations in our life. We don’t give Silence a chance to operate. Once regretful words have been put out there, it is often too late. It is best to control them earlier on. Fewer words are sometimes all we need to share wisdom. Pythagoras rightly said “Be silent or let the words be worth more than silence”.

In a professional setting, while attending meetings, it is best to first listen silently and carefully, to understand the context of the discussion. One should not interrupt while the other person is speaking. The more one speaks, the more he/she runs the risk of disclosing too much information, giving clues on their strategy and make blunders, much to the advantage of the other person. “It’s better to look stupid than to open your mouth and leave no doubt about it” – Pierre Desproges

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Communication is not just about using words. Real communication is beyond words. What a single glance can convey, a thousand words cannot. Mark Twain aptly mentioned “The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause”.

The most influential leaders in the world are great communicators, but they also know when and where to remain Silent. This increases their stature. If you’ve mastered the art of Silence (using it at the right time and place), you have one of the main ingredients to achieve fame and success. “Power is in many ways is a game of appearances, and when you say less than necessary, you inevitably appear greater and more powerful than you are” – Robert Green

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The bible mentions in Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God”. The issue with our generation is that we don’t invest time in our souls. We get so busy with the rigmarole of life that we forget the little things which matter. We pay much more importance to our body/ mind, and the soul gets neglected. We boast as though we know it all. It would be wise to read the psalm once again. It says – Be still and know that I am God. It does not say, be still and know that you are God! The Almighty is willing to give us answers/ solutions to all our circumstances. He is keen to grant us our petitions, prayers though his grace and mercy. But do we ever remain Silent so that we my hear him?

There would be no better way of concluding this article than by quoting Frank Ocean’s famous words – “Work hard in Silence, let success be your noise.” So have you heard the Sound of Silence? Try it, there’s nothing more melodious I guarantee!!!

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Power of Association

Raman and Ranveer are first cousins living at a plush South Mumbai locality of Cuffe Parade. They are 16 years old (Raman being elder of the two by 3 months). The families are ecstatic as both the lads have scored very well in their 10th Standard ICSE board exams. While Raman got 90.7%, Ranveer did a tad better at 92.2%. Belonging to a family of medical professionals, both Raman and Ranveer had aspirations of becoming doctors, and were lucky to have got admitted in the Science faculty of the same junior college. The next 2 years were going to be very important for the brothers, as their fate in the 12th board examinations would decide their access to medical courses.

Raman was inclined towards music, reading, spirituality and painting. While Ranveer was more outgoing and preferred dance, sports, clubbing and partying. Both had enrolled for the same tuitions and classes for their Medical CET preparations. Sunday was generally a free day for the boys, and both spent their time in leisure activities. Raman was taking piano lessons and had enrolled himself for a certification with the Trinity School of Music. He would spend the day at classes and the evening with his peers discussing music and arts. Ranveer got an opportunity to go partying with his pals. Unfortunately he got hooked on to wrong company and got habituated to smoking, alcohol and drugs!

In an ill-fated turn of events, the police turned up at the bar where Ranveer and his friends were partying. They were arrested for illegal possession of drugs. Somehow his parents managed to bail him out and got him back home. The situation at home was tense. Ranveer, instead of being apologetic, back answered elders at home, and justified his illegal activities. Sadly, his parents learned over a period of time, that Ranveer was addicted to drugs and could not live without them. He could not concentrate on studies, and needed his daily quota of marijuana. He got pretty ill, and had to be admitted to a rehab center for 4 months! Academically, he lost a year since he was unable to attend his 11th Standard final exams. On the other hand, Raman scored very well in his board and entrance exams and got admitted to a MBBS course.

What went wrong with Ranveer? Despite getting higher scores in his ICSE exams, he could not continue with his good performance. The answer is simple! He got into wrong company. This can be explained by the Power of Association.

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Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” The key to really putting the power of association at work is to ensure that the average of the five people we’re spending the most time with is pulling us up instead of pulling us down. The principle is tried and tested. You can predict the success of an individual simply by looking at the people he or she associates with.

It is a choice we make in our daily lives. We get to choose, whom we should spend time with and which people we must avoid. Every relationship in your life is a current moving towards your dreams or away from them. “The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve. Anytime you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity. A mirror reflects a man’s face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses.”  – Collin Powell

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The habits of people that we choose to spend the most time with, tend to rub off on us.  If you choose to spend time with people who are very goal focused, then chances are if you’re not goal focused, you soon will be. You cannot become excellent unless you walk with those who have attained excellence. “Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation. It is better to be alone then in bad company” – George Washington

Anyone who is not adding to you, will definitely be subtracting from you either emotionally, mentally, materially or intellectually. Who we hang out with affects our self-esteem and our success in what we want to achieve. Success breeds success. No man is an island. Who you surround yourself with will have a major bearing on your success. Don’t listen to frightened people. Being happy, healthy and rich is as much about mindset as it is about knowledge. Frightened people have a poor mindset and are always complaining about how the sky is falling. “Successful people carefully manage their energy and associations, they are gate keepers. – Bryant McGill

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One must avoid people who are always complaining and blaming others for their circumstances. People who are always judging others, spread negative gossip and talk about how bad it is. Avoid people who limit the scope of your dream who keep telling you your aim is too high. I remember reading somewhere, no one should form an acquaintance with one who has an evil character. A piece of coal would burn us when hot, and blackens our hands when cold.  T.D Jakes once said “It’s always good to know when to let go of certain relationships.”

When I compliment you, I compliment myself” – Jarod Kintz. We must always seek to associate with people more successful than we are, and wiser, too. We should surround our self with people of high ethical character, and with those who have high appetite for work. To lead for growth, your energy will come from associating with people who are more successful than yourself.

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I would like to conclude with some pearls of wisdom by Jim Rohn: “You must constantly ask yourself these questions: Who am I around? What are they doing to me? What have they got me reading? What have they got me saying? Where do they have me going? What do they have me thinking? And most important, what do they have me becoming? Then ask yourself the big question: Is that okay? Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change!” We would have to be more conscious, take charge of our lives, and take informed decisions regarding individuals we spend time with. This would have a direct impact on our success, happiness, peace, prosperity and health.

So whom do you choose to associate with?

 

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Discover Your Destiny

While pondering about the next topic to be published on this website, it suddenly struck me that I had not posted any book reviews yet. Books have always been my closest friends, and very faithful ones. When my soul longs for solitude, I cut off from this world, and immerse myself in the language of words.  Being the maiden book review for this website, it had to be a special one! I glanced through my mini library at home, and soon my eyes were fixated on Discover Your Destiny with the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma.

For those who don’t know Robin Sharma, he is an internationally acclaimed leadership guru. He is the CEO of Sharma Leadership International, which helps develop employees in organizations via training and coaching. He’s authored more than 10 books, most of them being bestsellers in more than 50 countries. Robin is also a highly sought-after speaker, leadership coach and consultant.

Discover your Destiny, is a continuation to Robin’s previous work – The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, and is written as a rich and rewarding fable. The main protagonist, Dan Sanderson, is projected as a highly ambitious executive who appears to have it all on the outside but lacks happiness, meaning and inner peace. An encounter with Julian Mantle, the monk sets Dan upon an interesting journey to find his authentic self and claim the life of his dreams.

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The book wonderfully portrays life as a treasure, and puts the reader to think. It teaches us to embrace things as they happen with an open heart, which in turn enables us to grow wiser and stronger. The reader is enlightened on how to lead a disciplined and a happier life, and is made aware of how one should create happiness and success.

The book unfolds as an enlightening fable:

You are sitting in the middle of a magnificent, lush, green garden. This garden is filled with the most spectacular flowers you have ever seen. The environment is supremely tranquil and silent. Savor the sensual delights of this garden and feel as if you have all the time in the world to enjoy this natural oasis. As you look around you see that in the center of this magical garden stands a towering, red lighthouse, six stories high. Suddenly, the silence of the garden is disturbed by a loud creaking as the door at the base of the lighthouse opens. Out stumbles a nine-foot-tall, nine-hundred-pound Japanese sumo wrestler who casually wanders into the center of the garden. The Japanese sumo wrestler is naked! Well, actually he is not totally naked. He has a pink wire cable covering his private parts.

As this sumo wrestler starts to move around the garden, he finds a shiny gold stopwatch which someone had left behind many years earlier. He slips it on, and falls to the ground with an enormous thud. The sumo wrestler is rendered unconscious and lies there, silent and still. Just when you think he has taken his last breath, the wrestler awakens, perhaps stirred by the fragrance of some fresh yellow roses blooming nearby. Energized, the wrestler jumps swiftly to his feet and intuitively looks to his left. He is startled at what he sees. Through the bushes at the very edge of the garden he observes a long winding path covered by millions of sparkling diamonds. Something seems to instruct the wrestler to take the path, and to his credit, he does. This path leads him down the road of everlasting joy and eternal bliss.

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Through this book, Robin very beautifully explains the seven stages of Self-Awakening. We discover:

  • How to relinquish control and trust in your limitless potential
  • How to avoid the crime of self-betrayal and live greatly
  • How adopting the ‘beginner’s mind” can lead to higher levels of self-mastery
  • How to transform fear into fortune
  • How to discover your calling and life’s purpose
  • How to turn events that test you into events that reward you
  • How to awaken your fullest potential

However, all of the above is just not possible without the five daily devotions enumerated in the book. They are:

  • Rise each and every morning at 5 am. Those who get up early are those who get the best from life.
  • Set aside the first sixty minutes of your day as your “holy hour”. This is your sacred time to do the inner work (prayer, meditation, journaling, reading from the wisdom literature, reflecting on the state of your life) that will help you live your highest life.
  • Display a standard of care, compassion and character well beyond what anyone could ever imagine from you. In doing so you will be doing your part to aid in the building of a new world.
  • Display a standard of excellence at work, far higher than anyone would ever expect from you. Abundance and fulfillment will flow back to you.
  • Devote yourself to being the most loving person you know and thinking, feeling and acting as though you are one of the greatest people currently on the planet. Your life will never be the same and you will bless many lives.

Here are a few pearls of wisdom as mentioned in the book:

Within your heart all answers lie, walk towards your fear and then you’ll learn to fly. 

Life is a treasure and you are so much more than you know.

The mind is an excellent servant but a tyrannical master.

When you shift from a compulsion to survive, into a heartfelt commitment to serve, your life cannot help but explode into success.

We see the world not as it is, but as we are.

Sometimes in life we feel left out, insecure, or completely lost. We just don’t know how to proceed further. This well written masterpiece gives us a lot of answers and the way forward. While reading it, I’ve laughed and cried. This is definitely one of the most powerful and amazing books. Life-changing is an understatement! Unputdownable. Highly recommended. Go read this one!

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Ever tasted the Humble pie?

Saksham is working for an infrastructure networking company at Hyderabad as AVP – Sales & Business Development since two years. This is his first stint in sales, and was prior working in the marketing and corporate communications department for 10 years at a software company based in Noida. He made the switch, since he found a meatier role coupled with significantly higher salary and better perks.

However, his role drastically changed. From designing brochures and drafting communications for shareholders, the new role now involved meeting enterprise customers, making presentations, achieving sales targets and managing lead generations. He had to travel for 15 to 18 days in a month which was now beginning to take a toll on his health.

During his first year, Saksham was very concerned about attaining his targets, since he wanted to prove himself as a proficient sales professional. He met up with his team members weekly and chalked out monthly strategies. He also attended sales conferences and associated with senior folks within the industry to understand better ways to accomplish his targets. Saksham confessed to his superiors that he was yet to learn the tricks of the trade, and requested their support to assist him stabilize his sales career. Being in a new role made him jittery at times, although Saksham left no stone unturned and kept marching towards his goal.

The first year passed, and Saksham achieved a turnover of Rs. 1.75 crores. He over achieved his target by Rs. 50 lacs. The former AVP was able to manage only Rs. 85 lacs last year, whereas Saksham got in more than double the money, even though he knew nothing about sales till a year back. He was now the star performer of his organization, and became the talk of the town! He was felicitated by the CEO of the organization, got a hefty bonus payout, and was promoted to Vice President – Sales in his first appraisal. No small achievement! Life couldn’t be rosier.

Saksham was now on cloud nine! He was extremely confident and believed that he knew it all. He presided over various conferences, and made speeches at seminars on how to be successful. Due to a busy schedule, Saksham was unable to meet his team weekly, and conducted monthly meetings with them. He was not very friendly with his team members now, and left no occasion of boasting about his capabilities. All his anxieties of the previous year had now turned into self-gratification.

Saksham’s team was about to achieve Rs, 2 crores this year, however the unexpected happened! Due to a global meltdown, one of their largest customers pulled out, and he could finally achieve only Rs. 75 lacs in the year. This was only half the target set for the year. Such are the uncertainties of the corporate world. Saksham nearly lost his job, but somehow convinced his management team for a 6 month grace period to prove himself once again. He was lucky to have got this extension.

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What happened? Could he blame it all on the global meltdown? NO. Saksham had changed. His jitters had turned into pride. His humility had twisted into ego. He thought he was invincible. His words were now arrogant. The universe never supports a heart filled with vanity and superiority. At any point in time one needs to be humble and thankful for all gifts and triumphs we receive. Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.  – John Wooden

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The Bible tells us in James 4: 6 that “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” We need to be careful at every step, so that we don’t become egoistic about our worldly victories. The only way to achieve more success is to thank God at every step, for every milestone achieved, and request His grace for the next one. Humility is also recognizing, that you need God’s help, and knowing you can’t truly succeed in your own strength. History suggests that the most successful people in the world are the most humble. Humility is a quality closely associated with the greats. We come nearest to the great when we are great in humility. – Rabindranath Tagore

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Humility, a term generally associated with giving in, standing down or acting passive is actually best suited to describe the world’s greatest leaders. The best teachers and professors I have ever met were the most humble. Humility is also recognizing that ideas can come from other people, a willingness to change our minds, being able to admit mistakes when we make them, and being willing to learn from the mistakes of others, rather than being harsh on them. We can choose to connect from the heart and create meaningful relationships and give to other people or be self-absorbed and arrogant.

The grace, mercy, blessings and favor of the Almighty is only showered upon those who humble themselves rather than those who are soaked in pride and ego! The sea is lower than the rivers, and this is why the rivers flow to the sea and not the other way around.” – Dr. Chana Zelizer

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However, humility should never be used as an excuse of being ordinary in our work or being ill prepared. Hard work and talent supplemented with humility can take us to altitudes we have never imagined. Being humble also does not mean having a low self-esteem and considering yourself to be incompetent. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less. – Rick Warren. So let us march ahead with confidence in all humility, knowing that God will bless us. So are you ready to taste the Humble pie? Nothing would be more nourishing and delightful! I guarantee.

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Dear Stress, Let’s Break-Up!

Manoj and Malti are siblings living with their parents in Hyderabad. Manoj is 18 years old, while Malti is 16. Given the 2 year age gap, this is an important year for them. Manoj is about to appear for his 12th Std. CBSE board exams, while Malti is preparing for her 10th Std. ICSE exams. The pressure is high; Manoj wants to get into MBBS whereas Malti is keen on getting admitted to the much coveted Science stream. While Manoj has always been a class topper, Malti has been able to generally secure 65 to 70% marks in her exams.

Their parents have admitted them to the best of tuitions and classes. They want to leave no stone unturned to see their kids succeed in their board exams this year. Given the level of competition in India, it is but obvious that the family is hassled to say the least.

It is 3 months to the board exams. When things just seemed to be going fine, in an unfortunate event, Manoj lost his best friend Manish in a car accident. Manoj was in the car behind Manish’s and was lucky to have survived the mishap. Both were best friends. They studied together, and were always a pillar of strength and support for each other.  Manish was a wizard in Chemistry and always helped Manoj, while Manoj took the lead in Physics. There was no competition amongst the two, and both were genuinely concerned for the other.

Manoj had never experienced the loss of a loved one. This was the first instance where he encountered death so closely. He was shaken by the catastrophe! He spent sleepless nights disturbed and traumatized. The moment he opened his Chemistry book, he would start weeping. Manish’s handwriting and tips were all over the book!

In such situations, they say, time is the best healer. Both finished their board exams. Manoj scored 90%, but missed out on a MBBS seat by just 3 marks. He had to settle for BDS (Bachelor of Dental Studies). Malti, to everyone’s surprise scored 89% and secured admissions in the science stream.

Manoj was always a class topper. However, this time he stood 9th in his batch. What happened? A well deserving student like Manoj was unable to secure admissions to MBBS. Did Manish’s loss have such a huge impact in Manoj’s life? Yes it did! Manoj knowingly/ unknowingly went through a situation, which is referred to as STRESS!

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What is stress? Stress is the body’s response to physical or emotional changes in life. This response includes the release of a hormone, adrenaline, in the body. Adrenaline causes an increase in heart rate, breathing and in blood sugar levels. It also diverts the blood flow from our digestive system to our muscles (e.g. leg muscles). Stress can give life some spice and excitement too. Positive stress helps us to cope with problems that might arise. On the other hand, living under very stressful conditions for long periods of time, may harm our health and relationships.

The life of inner peace, being harmonious and without stress, is the easiest type of existence – Norman Vincent Peale

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Some of the common causes of stress are:

Major Life Changes:

  • death of loved ones
  • accidents
  • legal issues
  • relocation
  • debt
  • illness
  • marriage
  • pregnancy
  • new job
  • divorce
  • unemployment

Environmental Events:

  • excessive noise
  • traffic jams
  • time pressure
  • competition
  • health epidemic

It is imperative to manage stress quickly, as it often leads to severe health conditions like blood pressure, heart attack, asthma, stroke, nervous breakdown etc.

William James said: The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one though over another.  This implies the huge correlation between stress and our state of mind.

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Here are simple yet effective ways to reduce stress:

  • Planning and prioritizing
  • Be realistic in what you can do
  • Speak to someone about your problems if possible
  • Interact with your family and friends
  • Learn to like yourself and think positive
  • Keep healthy and fit
  • Make some time for yourself and your hobbies (the me time)
  • Plan a vacation
  • Spend time your pets
  • Laugh
  • Meditate and learn some relaxation techniques (quiet time)

Munching on a piece of dark chocolate, eating a banana or drinking a cup of coffee are great stress busters. In the office setting, the best way to avoid stress is to be aware of your roles and responsibilities. Prioritize your tasks and deliver before time. A lot though depends on our supervisors and manager. Chanda Kochhar very aptly said: Clearly,for an organization to move on, it is the job of the leader to be that sponge that takes the stress from inside and the outside.

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A little stress is always good to drive us towards achieving our goals. But we tend to forget when the “little” becomes “huge”. It’s time to invite more positive thoughts in our life, and say “Good-Bye Stress”. The best break-up party you can throw, is your break-up with stress. Try it. You’ll be a transformed soul, I guarantee!

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In loving memory of the Peoples President

While I was glancing through my twitter account, I happened to read the last tweet by    Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam “Going to Shillong.. to take course on Livable Planet earth at iim. With @srijanpalsingh and Sharma.” The only thoughts that came to my mind after reading these tweets were – Such a noble soul. A huge loss to the nation, and for humanity at large!

At 83, Dr. Kalam was bright and alert, as though he were a 25 year young man. His concerns and worries for India were genuine, and he always endeavored to work towards making India a superpower by 2020. As the eleventh President of India between 2002 and 2007, he gained admiration and respect from the people of India. His popularity and love amongst children was enormous, and he did all he could to guide them to the right path. He utilized any opportunity that came his way to address students, especially school children, to dream big, so that they became achievers in life. He authored many books such as Wings of Fire, Ignited Minds, India 2020 and Turning Points.

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A career scientist turned reluctant politician, Dr. Kalam was born on 15th October, 1931 in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu and studied physics and aerospace engineering. He was a recipient of several prestigious awards, including the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honor. After graduating from the Madras Institute of Technology in 1960, Dr. Kalam joined the Aeronautical Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) as a scientist. In 1969, Dr. Kalam was transferred to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) where he was the project director of India’s first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) which successfully deployed the Rohini satellite in near-earth orbit in July 1980.  He was known as India’s missile man for ensuring the success of Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).

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As they say, a great purpose breaks the walls of human limitation. Dr. Kalam had a single-minded focus of captivating India to greater heights. A motivational speaker and orator, Dr. Kalam’s pearls of wisdom always inspired his listeners. There’s no better way of paying respect to the Peoples President of India, than by reminiscing and reading this thoughts. Here are a selected few:

  • You have to dream before your dreams can come true.
  • Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires only to give the best to those who dream and work.
  • To succeed in your mission, you must have single-minded devotion to your goal.
  • Great dreams of great dreamers are always transcended.
  • My message, especially to young people is to have courage to think differently, courage to invent, to travel the unexplored path, courage to discover the impossible and to conquer the problems and succeed. These are great qualities that they must work towards. This is my message to the young people.
  • God, our Creator, has stored within our minds and personalities, great potential strength and ability. Prayer helps us tap and develop these powers.
  • Let us sacrifice our today so that our children can have a better tomorrow.
  • Excellence is a continuous process and not an accident.
  • Man needs his difficulties because they are necessary to enjoy success.
  • Climbing to the top demands strength, whether it is to the top of Mount Everest or to the top of your career.
  • As a child of God, I am greater than anything that can happen to me.
  • Writing is my love. If you love something, you find a lot of time. I write for two hours a day, usually starting at midnight; at times, I start at 11.
  • We must think and act like a nation of a billion people and not like that of a million people. Dream, dream, dream!
  • Don’t take rest after your first victory because if you fail in the second, more lips are waiting to say that your first victory was just luck.
  • If you want to shine like a sun. First burn like a sun.

These inspirational words are sure to encourage everyone, and help them achieve their goals and mission. Come, let us take forward Dr. Kalam’s legacy and work towards fulfilling his dream of making India a superpower. If not by 2020, then at least by 2030!

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Dr. Kalam breathed his last on 27th July, 2015 at IIM, Shillong, where he was to deliver a lecture on Livable Planet. There would be no better tribute to him, than accomplishing his dreams of a prosperous, self-sufficient, and peaceful India. May his soul rest in peace.

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I choose to speak life

Tejal and Teji are twin sisters from Delhi. They study at one of the best ICSE schools in the 8th standard. They belong to a very affluent Gujarati family from North India. Both are decent in studies. While Tejal loves Mathematics and Science, Teji’s favorite subjects are English and Hindi. Tejal is quiet, calm and composed by nature, while Teji is a chatterbox and careless with her words.

Final exams are just 2 months away. While their parents keep pestering the girls to study in advance for their examinations, the sisters are pretty confident that they can end up getting first class marks with last minute preparations, just like they did every year.

Unfortunately dengue struck both the lassies and they had to be hospitalized. By the time they were cured and regained their strength it was just 15 days to their final exams! They missed school for around 40 days. All hell broke loose. Their parents were worried about how they would cope with their final assessments. A lot of portion had to be learnt, and they did not have enough time to cover all 8 subjects.

Somehow, the sisters appeared for their exams. Tejal ended up with 68% whereas Teji was dejected with 53%. Here, is an example of 2 adolescent girls with similar backgrounds, same upbringing, going through identical circumstances. How did Tejal manage an extra 15%? Why did Teji not manage to get better marks? The answer to these questions is a one word answer: WORDS.

While Tejal prayed daily and affirmed that she would definitely excel in her examinations with the help of the Almighty God; Teji kept worrying and confessing to her friends that she was not well prepared, and was not sure about how she’d manage to write her papers. As we can see, Tejal and Teji spoke their destinies. Rather, we all speak our destinies. Words can shape our thinking as they enter deep into our subconscious. Davis Riesman rightly said, “Words not only affect us temporarily; they change us, they socialize or unsocialize us.”

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We must be aware of what we speak, rather than words simply falling out of our mouth. Sometimes, it’s best to remain silent than speak unnecessarily. Most of us take our words for granted, not knowing that we are prophesying over our lives. We can either be careful and speak positive, or be casual and talk nonsense. The choice is completely ours. But the consequences can be huge! The Bible says in Psalm 141:3 “Take control of what I say, O Lord; and guard my lips.”

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Our words must boost the confidence of others rather than demotivate them. Proverbs 18:21 says “The power of the tongue is life and death— those who love to talk will eat what it produces.” Each one of us has power to speak life or death over any person or situation. Then why talk negative? Why not edify by speaking kind words?  Words such as ugly, fat, stupid, skinny must never be used. These words are as good as spanking the other person. Whereas, words like wonderful, excellent, awesome, superb are comparable to a pat on the back for people. Negative words may end up in wars, murders, fights and divorces. Let us be extremely careful about what we utter. Ephesians 4:29 says “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”

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In the organizational context, words spoken by supervisors and managers have added weight. Their words can end up motivating or discouraging their teams. Every sentence should be rephrased in the affirmative. Rather than saying “Not bad”, we can use “That’s good”. This would make a world of difference to the listener. It is not about what you say, but how you say it. Rather than saying, “Why don’t we try?”; one can use “Let’s try”. The word don’t is a negative one, and is beautifully replaced in the statement above. Would you not feel good if the waiter at your favorite restaurant says “It was a pleasure serving you, Sir”.  Am sure, you’d love to visit that restaurant again, since you felt appreciated and upbeat.

An important principle to remember while speaking is that we must talk to people, and not talk about them. Gossips and rumors are dangerous, and must be avoided. Have positive thoughts, and your words would automatically be gentle. George Orwell aptly said “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”

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It is imperative to listen before we speak. Our replies must be guarded and to the point. Sometimes, we speak too much and then realize that we’ve made a mockery of our self. Proverbs 11:12 says “It is foolish to belittle one’s neighbor; a sensible person keeps quiet.”

We must take the decision to speak loving, caring and uplifting words. We not only create our own destiny, but create destinies for our friends, family, organizations, cities, states, nations and the world. How can we then be so reckless and speak pessimistic, destructive words. We must cleanse ourselves so that positivity flows out of our heart. Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

So what would you choose today? I choose to speak life!

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Attitude of Gratitude

Dheeraj and Dilip were best friends since the age of five. They lived in the same residential complex, attended the same school/ college and had similar extra-curricular activities. It was a great coincidence that they shared the same birthday as well! The last twenty three years were a testimony of their robust friendship, care and trust for each other. They were lucky to have got recruited in the same organization in April 2009, where they always helped each other achieve their goals. They were a perfect example of brothers from another mother.

Everything was picture perfect until 2012. Prior to that, Dheeraj and Dilip were earning similar salaries, at equivalent designations and were reporting to the same supervisor. In April 2012, Dheeraj received a double promotion with an option of being transferred to Manchester, UK. He got a fabulous salary offer (almost three times his current Indian salary, given the rupee – pound exchange rate!).Dilip was promoted as well, although his duties would continue at the Mumbai office. The time to bid farewell had finally arrived! Dilip threw a big sendoff party for Dheeraj, and bid a tearful goodbye to his long- time companion and buddy.

As time passed by, both got busy in their own lives and were occasionally in touch with each other. Today Dilip works as a Managing Director in a mid-size IT company in Bangalore. He’s doing very well for himself and is one of the highest paid executives in the IT industry. Unfortunately due to some challenges on the personal front, Dheeraj had to resign from his job and relocate back to Mumbai. He is now on the lookout for a new assignment and is in deep financial crisis.

Why was destiny so cruel on Dheeraj yet benevolent on Dilip? Here we have two young lads who have the same educational backgrounds, similar upbringing and equivalent work experience. Although Dheeraj had an initial advantage, how did Dilip move ahead so quickly?

Dheeraj got over-confident of his abilities and talents once he moved to UK. He took for granted all gifts bestowed upon him by the universe and became boastful. On the other hand, Dilip had an attitude of gratitude. He was always thankful for his job, finances, personal life and all opportunities that came his way.

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As we can see, their attitude made all the difference. While Dheeraj reflected ego and thanklessness; Dilip reflected gratitude and gratefulness through his life. As it is said, we reap what we sow!  The universe only returns what we plant. The blessings we attract in our lives are directly proportional to the state of thankfulness in our subconscious minds. “Start each day with an expression of gratitude” – Napoleon Hill.

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We must take time each day to search for the smallest of things to be grateful for. In other words, we must cultivate the habit of being grateful for everything that we possess. As we start doing this, our lives would be filled with immense laughter and joy. Wallace D Wattles said “The grateful mind is constantly fixed upon the best. Therefore it tends to become the best. It takes the form or character of the best, and will receive the best”.

Most of us get into a whining mode quite often. We tend to overlook the blessings and gifts, and concentrate on what we don’t have. It would be wise to look for what is right in a situation, and not at what is wrong. The moment we inculcate this shift in energy, we’ll receive abundantly from the universe. We need to thank the Almighty not just through words, but through our actions.  As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live them.”– John F Kennedy

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Gratitude is contagious. It has a domino effect. The moment we thank somebody, we see a smile flashed back at us. When you gift a Thank You card to your friend, you are sure to receive a warm hug in return. How much more would the Almighty bless us once we begin to thank Him? The Creator is waiting to bless us with everything that we need. But are we doing what is essential? The wealthiest people on this earth are the ones that are filled with humility and gratitude. They think, talk and display gratefulness. This is the greatest secret of the wealthy. Let us be filled with gratefulness and attract all that we want to receive. “Gratitude is a powerful force in the universe that helps you attract more abundance into your life” – Narges Nirumvala

Some people ask, “What can I be grateful for? There are so many problems in my life”. We need to ask ourselves simple questions when we get into the questioning mode. Do we have dinner to eat tonight? Do we have clothes to wear tomorrow? Do we have a roof above our head? Are we blessed with family and friends? If the answer to any of the above is yes, then we are amongst the 25% privileged on planet earth. Can we now have reasons to be ungrateful? Let us be thankful for our finances, health, house, food, family, friends, career, pets, automobiles, clothes, talents… the list can be endless. Let’s unveil the gratitude secret and enter the miraculous realms.

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I would like to conclude by quoting what Oprah Winfrey once said – “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

What are you grateful for today???

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The Goal Post

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Shyam works as AVP – Marketing in a multinational corporate bank at Mumbai. He is 32 years old, and has done pretty well in his professional life so far. He got a first class throughout in academics, and was selected 9 years back via campus placements at a handsome salary. He was lucky to have got the highest CTC amongst other students at the B school. He is arguably one of the most eligible bachelors in town today.

His life seemed to be a fairy tale to any person observing him at a distance. However, Shyam was anything but happy in life. His personal life was in disarray. He was staying away from ageing parents in Bhopal. He was unable to spend quality time with his younger brother who was in his final year Ph.D. at Pune. Due to long hours and extreme stress at office, he was unable to develop a regular exercise regime and maintain healthy eating habits. This began taking a toll on his health. To top it all, his grand-father was suffering from liver cancer, which was a huge drain on his finances.

All this stress started impacting Shyam negatively. His performance at office started declining. He could not concentrate at work. He spent sleepless nights pondering over his problems. Why did Shyam go through these issues despite being the brightest student in class? What was wrong? What were the solutions to his troubles?

The biggest hitch was uncertainty about his life purpose, and hence he made no plans to achieve them. Shyam did not know what he wanted! He was always confused about his priorities and could never decide if he needed to pay more attention in his office/ attend to his ageing parents, grand-parents in Bhopal/ help his younger brother in his studies. He was never in control of his finances as he did not have any financial goals either. It was rightly said by Lucius Annaeus Seneca “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.”

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It is imperative for every person to have goals in their life. A goal is an object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. In other words, if there is no goal, there is no desired result. This is where things go in disarray. It is important to take time out from our busy schedules, and make note of goals which we wish to achieve in this short life. Nobody knows if they would live to be 40 or 90! It hence becomes imperative to have goals and formulate plans to achieve them in a timely manner.

Once you identify your goals (both short-term and long-term), the next step is to document them. Research states that committing goals to paper conclude in better results and greater success. It would be good to maintain a diary/ log book where one could list down the goals to be achieved along with timelines to achieve the same. Timelines must be realistic and strategies must be made to ensure strict adherence to the same.  One must stay focused. Leading a disciplined lifestyle is the key to achieving our goals. Consistent effort and diligence go a long way!

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Goals must be associated with a dream one would like to fulfill. We should have answers to the why, how, when, where and what for each goal documented. It is good to support each goal with positive affirmations which may be written or spoken daily. Use of negative words must be completely avoided and the statements should be brimming with life! This ensures seepage of goals in our subconscious mind engraining them in our deepest levels. Visualizing on a daily basis, and seeing yourself achieving these goals benefits to a great extent, and the universe then conspires to help us achieve them.

Every goal should be within the SMART principle (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-frame). Once these basic parameters are followed, the probability of achieving success increases manifold. On achieving a target, goals should be upgraded and bettered to the next level. If they become redundant, those goals must be modified/ scrapped on a timely basis.

Broadly, we must set goals for ourselves in the following areas:

  1. Educational
  2. Family
  3. Career
  4. Financial
  5. Family and Health
  6. Spiritual
  7. Leisure

The complete process of setting goals and achieving them should result in we becoming better people /human beings. “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Henry David Thoreau.

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The moment one achieves a goal, it’s time to celebrate. Each time you revel in the success of achieving your objective, you get an opportunity of motivating yourself and raising your self-confidence. Accomplishing the next set of goals would now be a pleasure.

I would like to conclude by stating a quote by Tony Robbins – “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”  So let’s play and unfold the invisible in our lives!

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