Take Daily

Where would you find someone who is not motivated?

Exactly where you left him.

Paradoxically life moves on, but there are many who fail to move with it. They either stay trapped in their own world, or stuck to where they are, or do anything of substance that indicates they have moved and put life to good use.

If you won’t be better tomorrow than you were today, then what do you need tomorrow for? – Rabbi Nachman

Survival is a natural instinct for all living organisms, but humans were given more to achieve more. If they just concentrate on surviving then they are defeating the purpose of their elevation of being human.

Indeed there are no alarm bells that start buzzing when you while away your life, or flags that start to show up when you are not utilizing your potential, but there is a voice inside that talks to you hoping for an eager ear.

This voice gathers lung power when it witnesses a great performance.  It eggs you on to replicate such performances. It nudges its elbow when you read motivational material, or listen to a moving speech and urges you to emulate the performances of the achievers.

But, that’s all it can do. Like an alarm it can nudge you, remind you that its time you wake up. It can scream its lungs out, but you can quieten it by a snooze palm, or choke it by dismissing it and go back into your slumber.

If you think that the resourceful are more motivated, you will be surprised. Motivation is not powered by the currency of wealth, resources or opportunities. It does not flourish naturally in wealthy soils but feeds on man-made manure of belief, determination and desire-to-do, not well-to-do. This fertilizer is abundantly available within and is manufactured indigenously by each person of their own free will.

Ironically, motivated people make the best of the least than those who want the most to be the best. They clutch to meagre situations; with their enthusiasm and effort they expand them into opportunities, and with persistent action make them count. Others keep waiting for the right opportunities.

Opportunities don’t come dressed in shiny satin, adorned with jewels, aboard a royal limousine, sirens blazing, followed by a convoy of vehicles. They come innocuously as rough stones in plain clothes, looking for suitors who can convert them into polished diamonds. To make the cut they are looking for those who are a cut above the rest, because the others are busy looking for ready-to-serve rewards from shimmery clothed, screaming impersonators.

So is motivation essential? And how often do you need it?

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily. – Zig Ziglar

The above quote was penned by a person whose name was synonymous with motivation. He gave us his everything before he recently joined his creator.

He showed us how to stay motivated, and make this world full of energy and expectation.

Terminating Move

Two friends having met after a long time were updating each other.

So how’s your health plan?

Fine! I now devote an hour each day, almost four days a week.

Really? Even I want to do it. I think that will be my New Year resolution.

But, why not right away?

You know I have too many things on my plate right now. January 1st is an auspicious date to start anything new.

The friend was perplexed with the conversation. He persevered. What makes you think circumstances will be any different on January 1st.

The friend wondered what possible answer he could give.

Getting started is one of the most difficult tasks of an activity. It appears like there is either a deep pit to be crossed before you can move, or a huge log to be cleared before you can commence.

Minds are creative on both fronts. They can feed you either with excuses or solutions. And they grow in strength the way you feed them.

For those inclined towards comfort and drudgery will find the excuse route encouraging. And those inclined towards growth and evolvement, will find themselves looking for solutions.

The effort involved is the same. The solution seekers are always digging deep inside to overcome the pit outside. They jog their mind to cross the log. The fire inside burns it into cinder and clears the path to move forward.

The journey of those who are paralyzed is a still born. They conceive, only to deceive. They feign pregnancies and fake miscarriages, but know that they were carried away, not towards their plans but towards ideas they didn’t pursue.

However those who do get started still have a journey to cover. And the subject on everyone’s lips is what these players are upto? The players are busy with the game, and the spectators are occupied watching the players.

Terminating tasks is the foundation of all winners. They realize that finishing things is not an option but a statutory requirement.  While others may feel elated when they begin, this tribe doesn’t rest till they finish.

Each one adopts different methods. Some set small targets on their road to the final destination; some work partly on different things simultaneously which become a whole eventually; and some have their methods of madness. But they are all committed to termination.

And these people stare in disbelief when they see people drag their feet, take ages to complete tasks, and sadly watch many abandon their plans mid-way.

Last week the curtains came down on a chapter that was eagerly awaiting its conclusion since four years. The trial has tested the patience of many, especially those who believe in terminating things.

When you conclude, you don’t sit in mourning or celebration for too long. Because you have a journey to cover. You can’t lie still, you have to move on.

And when you finish one thing, you know you are creating an opening for the next leg of your journey.

You terminate to move.

Tiger earns its stripes

People live lives with their beliefs and convictions. Some wear it on their sleeve; some tuck it inside; some keep it close to their chest; and some keep swaying them with the tide.

Charles Dickens in the legendary Pickwick Papers had an interlude which I haven’t been able to erase from my memory. On being asked whom to support, he is suggested that he should go with the crowd. He presses further. What if there are two crowds? Go with the bigger crowd.

Let’s face it. Most of us can’t face it. We save ourselves the trouble of looking inside. We relieve ourselves to form our own opinions by dodging the effort to review situations. We bask in the comfort of general opinions to avoid carving out an opinion of our own.

But to be known, you have to step into the unknown. Pioneers, path breakers, crusaders and thought leaders take upon themselves the onus of an idea that they are inspired by and pursue it with passion and vigour.

The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Are these people different? Do they have something that others don’t? Are they exceptionally talented? Or do they possess some rare abilities?

Actually none. But they are different. They believe in their convictions and have a belief in themselves to pursue their convictions. Minor, as it may seem, it is this difference that makes these people stand apart like chalk and cheese, and makes others wonder what they are made of.

Their belief lends sincerity to their cause, adds a punch to their appeal, and the passion moves people towards them like bees to honey. They espouse causes that are close to people’s hearts but have found it difficult to bring to their lips.  They champion activities that people could not activate and embrace movements that draw people towards them.

They earn their stripes in the crowded jungle and are known as tigers.

The tiger stalks our television screens warning of its imminent extinction. In the human world too, the tigers are dwindling. One has passed away recently and there are not many pug marks to suggest that we may expect to hear the roar again.

In this fragile world, you need the tigers. Those who believe in what they do and pursue what they believe. In the jungle, tigers are born, but in the human world you have to become a tiger. As they say, the tiger earns its stripes.

Turn on the light

Imagine a world without light. Darkness all around and no ray of hope. A world full of glory submerged in darkness. A paradise on earth invisible without light. With no illumination, the paths to destinations disappear and no horizon in sight.

Light has showed the way to mankind since time immemorial. Physically, without light man finds himself in the dark, and mentally without the light of wisdom, we cannot enlighten ourselves.

The world is the same, so is paradise, but in our journey of life we wander in the dark if we don’t have the light to guide us.

A disciple of Buddha was planning to travel to a far off destination at night and requested for some light. He was disappointed to get a small lamp and enquired how he was expected to cover his long journey with such a small lamp. Buddha asked how many steps he was going to take at a time. He replied one. Buddha informed him that the light was enough for him to take the next step. Yes it was, and that’s all the light he required for his journey.

While light is imperative, some may not start the journey till the entire path is visible. They wait for the ideal conditions to prevail before they start moving. And for some just a ray of hope is enough to set off on the journey. They realize that neither the entire path will be visible at the start, nor adequate light assured through the journey.  But that doesn’t deter them from taking off.

Does light always guide you to the right path? Yes. But light does play some tricks. So instead of the right path, sometimes it glaringly shows the wrong path and expects you to look for an alternate path.

Mulla Nassruddin was looking for his lost ring near a lamp on the street. Enquiries revealed that he had actually dropped the ring in his room. So why was he looking for it on the street? Because his room was filled with darkness and he didn’t expect to find it.  Ironically many look for solutions where they feel are easily available rather than where they should actually be looking.

Celebration is always manifested with light. Rarely subdued, celebrations bring the magnificence of light in its glorious best. Lamps, lights, lanterns in all shapes and sizes brighten the kaleidoscope and lighten up our lives.

The festival of lights is here and so are the celebrations. Celebrate the light around you. It’s everywhere. It’s time to enjoy its brightness. Feel the warmth. Experience the glow and eradicate darkness.

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. – Chinese Proverb

Remember, in moments of darkness you may find no lamp to show you the way. But don’t despair. Because it’s during this eclipse you will discover that the biggest celebration is to experience the spark inside. The light is not far but close to you, waiting to be turned on.

And when you use that spark to dispel the darkness, it’s truly a time to celebrate. It’s time to celebrate the light within.

Tera kya hoga kaliya?

Friday is a day for Bollywood movie releases and on 15th August 1975, three years after India celebrated its Independence Silver Jubilee, a movie released this day would leave its indelible imprint for decades to come.

While ‘Sholay’ has cut across generations and is fondly remembered for its captivating dialogues, I recollect a scene when the chips are down for a soldier of the dacoit gang. With the stakes heavily loaded against him and chances of his survival bleak, his boss mockingly asks him about his fate, Tera kya hoga kaliya?

Most of us have been through tough times and some of those times were worse enough to make you wonder whether you’ll pass this one. The look in the eyes of the others suggested that they thought it was the end of the road for you. In these tough moments you hear an inner voice that asks, ‘What will you do to cross this one honey?’  And you immediately identify yourself in a predicament similar to the soldier, ’Tera kya hoga kaliya?’

All doors closed. No light in sight. No escape route. And you wonder – what now?

This is the point. This is the litmus test.  This is a position where you have to dig. Think desperately. Think out of the box. Pull out the proverbial rabbit to get out of the hole. You can either make it a point of no return, or bounce back.

In a sense these points define people. They define how they differ. They are the points of distinction.

On a smooth road there is little to choose between vehicles. It is the rocky roads that determine whether you can absorb the shocks and cross the rough patches smoothly. It is the turbulent weather that tests your mettle in the skies, and whether you can sail through after weathering the storm.

A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for. -  William Shedd

To many, tough situations signal the end of the story. Whenever they face adversity they begin to sink, they go weak in their knees, and their minds limp. They start wondering why this has happened to them or who is to be blamed for their misery. They blame others, forgetting that in these times you don’t need to inspect but introspect.

And it is in this exercise, within layers, that are hidden the prescriptions to the life taking ailments – waiting to be discovered. Scholars have oft repeated that the solution always lies within the problem. Those who align themselves, bounce back and those who malign, turn back. They give up, to go down.

Rewind your tapes. Recollect your desperate times. Times which looked like it was the end of the road for you. But you fought your way out of it. Your obituary was ready to be published but you got out with a relish. You survived. You won. You continued to stay in the game.

You recollect those fighting moments. You recollect those bleak chances. The fight from hopelessness to your gradually clutching the straws and building your nest of survival. Your heart swells when you recount the moments, you walk taller. You are glad it happened.

Yes, you are glad because you came out of it. But more importantly you discovered yet another weapon in your armoury. You know that you fought your way out, to stay in. And now that you are in, there will be more such battles to fight and the next time around the confidence of winning this battle will help you face the forthcoming challenges.

So next time when you find yourself hopeless in a situation and the world mocking with a familiar grin asking you, Tera kya hoga kaliya? Smile to yourself. You know it’s yet another opportunity to fight and come out.  And tell them, I know what will happen, I will make it happen.

Too bored to bore

I am happy to meet people who are committed to standards. I am impressed with people who are keen to complete assignments. I am delighted with people who want to take more tasks on their plate and accomplish them.

I am however amazed at how low they aim, or just complete it for the sake of doing it, or do many things but follow a standard that is mediocre.

They are too bored to dig beyond what is required, or are happy to meet the threshold standards.

Frankly, I may be lonely here as many wonder why we need to do anything beyond the elementary.

Watson’s partner demonstrated through his numerous episodes that when others fail, those who go beyond, those who go deeper, those who go beyond the obvious are those that hit gold.

While most are happy doing the elementary, they are not so contented with what they expect from life. They are always looking for unexpected profits and windfalls. However they never expect themselves to do anything unexpected or dig deeper to discover beyond a surface that they are comfortable with. They want to taste the water but are unwilling to bore. They often lie in wait for it to surface. They don’t dig.

What you sow, so you shall reap is a biblical adage. You sow seeds of mediocrity, you will get mediocre fruit. To expect something exceptional after having put in average, is defying the laws of nature.

The deeper you go, the higher you grow.

Look at the achievers. They raise their satisfaction levels internally and don’t stop at what is good for most because they are driven to achieve higher levels. They don’t do it for the edge, they do it for themselves. It is the standard they have in their minds that defines the gap between them and the others and gives them the proverbial edge. They are easily satisfied with the best.

I recollect a story about a sculptor who was inquired by a visitor why he was making a new idol when he could see a perfect one ready to install. The sculptor replied that there was a scratch on the nose which made him go for a fresh one. He ridiculed the sculptor on how anyone was going to know when the idol went up fifty feet off the ground. The sculptor replied, ‘No one else will, but I will know it’.

The achievers don’t comply with others’ standards. They don’t adhere to acceptable levels. They don’t look to satisfy others. They set their sights on marks that others standing upright on benches find it difficult to reach.

And this is because while others are bored to stretch themselves, bored to dig further than the surface, this clan gets bored if they don’t improve their previous performance. Their mind is always creating a vacuum of creating a performance better than the last one. The last one that had won them accolades and applause, and would win them again.

But the din of that applause does not drown their inner voice that keeps urging them, to move higher; to keep exploring new ways and means of bettering themselves.

They are not bored. They bore. They bore the brunt and now their trees bear the fruit.

To gather together

Festivals are an integral part of our cultural landscape. They come along each year and while most of us delve into the festivities, some use the opportunity to revisit their significance and probe if there are any relevant lessons.

The upcoming Dushera festival epitomizes the victory of good over evil. Its rich storyline throws up new lessons on every visit.

From a strategic perspective, Ravan made a calculated move. He knew that the two brothers and a wife were serving a penance in the forest, and living in solace.  With no allies or support with them, they seemed to be an easy prey for his lust.  Ravan made his move and succeeded in implementing his plans.

The abduction of his wife Sita made Ram aware of his loneliness. Though the two brothers were accomplished warriors, away from their kingdom, and no support in sight, they found themselves in a hole. However Ram responded with strategic thinking. He realized the futility of waging a battle against a mighty king. A king who was armed to the teeth with a rich armoury of boons accumulated through years of penance. If this invincibility was not enough, he was also assisted with a battery of heavy weights in slumber.  He woke up to the fact that he had no chance to break in and release his wife from the clutches of her abductor.

He did not resort to a desperate dash of despair but recognized that the need of the hour was to have a team that would put up a fight in his endeavour. With nothing in the bank, he looked beyond humans to get whatever he could stitch together. He forged a string of alliances as his team swelled to a respectable proportion.

The journey was unknown to them and they needed the combined skills of their diverse workforce to meet the constant challenges of an unforgiving terrain. The injustice and humiliation to the innocent family coupled with the ideals of the aggrieved galvanized the entire team who with spirit and grit kept marching towards their lofty goal.

While the Ram camp was swelling by the day, the Ravan camp was blissfully unaware of the growth in the ranks of the opposition. Proud of the imbalance of their unmatched strength of personnel and resources, they stood still in overconfidence. It was therefore no surprise that the friendly overtures of reconciliation by the Ram camp were ridiculed and refused.

History has it that the underdogs felled the mighty. With the defeat imminent, pride made reconciliation impossible and the invincible paid with the heaviest price a human can.

Nature has provided humans with enough power to survive, but to thrive they have to combine. However powerful and independent one may become, in times of despair or thrive they need to pair to drive.

To overcome tough challenges, or to attain great heights, they need to get together. And what seems impossible individually, they gather collectively.

It is in the shelter of each other that the people live. – Irish proverb

Tap of Energy

Imagine a sleek, aerodynamic car fitted with a powerful engine, ready to hit the road but…

Imagine a powerful wrestler, fit from years of practice, backing out of a contest because …

Imagine a powerhouse enterprise managing to achieve a good milestone, but stranded, because…

A lot of talk about success in life revolves around preparation and strategy, team and composition, action and follow up. If you get these, success is supposed to be a regular visitor at your doorstep.

Then why doesn’t potential always translate to performance; why do impressive specifications fail to deliver; or years of experience lets you down at that moment of truth?

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

Enthusiasm, excitement and energy are the cornerstones of good performances.

After a car is ready, it needs the energy to take it forward; a wrestler needs excitement to put up a fight; and an enterprise needs enthusiasm to move to the next level.

The most powerful gadget is rendered powerless when you remove it from the socket. A winner doesn’t go past the finishing line because didn’t participate with enthusiasm. The promising languish on the side lines because they didn’t jump in.

Though literally energy means power, energy comes from various sources.

Inspiration – With energy one can move mountains, with doubt, one can create them. A positive mindset is the seed of energy. You can be excited about the smallest and be cold towards the biggest opportunities. People who are inspired by a purpose derive their energy from it and don’t need external resources to build their energy bank. When you have a purpose and direction you don’t need to be woken up, you are awake within, waiting for dawn and not a yawn.

Ambience – A man is gauged by the company he keeps and his energy is gauged by the people he engages with. Choose well the people you spend time with as they can inflate you with the air of positivity or deflate you by puncturing your confidence. While they are a constant source of encouragement, in times of doubt and indecision, these people help you get up, and don’t let you down.

Preparation – Remember looking at the skies praying for rain on a wintry day when you were unprepared for an exam. Preparation builds energy through confidence. And constant preparation builds competence that gives you the energy to do well which unprepared individuals feel the dearth of.

The coming week marks the start of the ‘Navratri’ festival. It is a festival to celebrate the goddess of ‘Shakti’. Energy will be on display during this nine day celebration. To the devout it is time to revisit the deity and seek divine blessings. To the youth, it’s time to let their hair down to keep the spirits up.

Energy is not muscle, it is spirit. It is not brute power, it is enthusiasm. It is not physical stamina, but determination to weather the storm. It is not a spurt of vitality, but the perseverance to move towards your goals.

Energy brings out the best in you and sends a signal to everyone of your positive intent. You can plot to win battles armed with power, but you can only fight with energy. You can spend years in execution and feel deaf if you can’t hear the beats of energy in your ears. You can push start with support but can carry on the momentum only with the energy from within.

Energy cannot be refilled at a gas station. Energy cannot be transfused from one to another. It cannot be stored for a rainy day. It has to be created from within, again and again, each day, each time, for every endeavour.

And those who are full of energy don’t manufacture it, they have it. They don’t collect, they have created a process within that produces it, regularly, and in abundance. They just tap into it. To succeed, others may need the spirit of festivity in the air, and the beats to dance, but they tap to the beats of energy, from within.

Test of T20

Some months back I was scheduled to address a group of cancer patients. As I sat down to reflect what could be shared to motivate them, my heart was filled with compassion.

So little time, so much to do!

It struck me that the desperation and intensity is definitely affected when you have limited time at your disposal. You may want to write for hours, but when you have three hours to attempt six questions, you start filtering what you are going to focus on. When you have to meet a deadline, you have to conclude.

Watching the on-going T20 world cup I could see players taking undue risks in the shortest format. If you know you have limited time to stay alive you better score the most in the limited time. This is a sprint, not a marathon. This is not an endurance test where you reserve and preserve for a final flourish.

Today, we live in a T20 mindset. You can witness the change all around you. Lifecycles of products and services have shortened. You don’t buy products to last a lifetime. You want to have the time of your life, you want to enjoy till it lasts. People are not looking too far and companies have to prepare for the immediate future as the uncertainty of the future is certain.

Ideas are transforming into reality much faster. Intermediates and go-betweens are being dispensed with, to connect with each other directly. Information is on tap, and days of mining, accumulating and preserving info have faded into oblivion. People find it easier to search for contact details of a person on the net than look for the card they exchanged, when was it?

To the old school these are times of discomfort and uncertainty. Rule books are going out of the window, and a new order of no order is emerging. Earlier there was one route to success, and a few diversions. Now new versions are dished out every day. New destinations are added and new routes discovered. You don’t have to be copy book anymore, you can rewrite a book every day.

There is no time to build gradually; you need to create an impact, and that too almost immediately.  Fours and sixes are remembered with glee, and it is no longer attractive to watch singles and twos being accumulated. Earlier, fours and sixes were a punctuation, and now singles are as unwelcome as singles at a couples get-together.

While this mayhem of speed and non-stop excitement has changed the game, few things haven’t changed: the preparation, the practice and the development necessary to perform. What hasn’t changed is the need for commitment to what you do.

What has changed is the intensity.  It has made people more focussed on what to do, to make it happen, quickly. What has changed is the absence of patience, and the time you have at your disposal to succeed. There is no time to get your act together, you perform or perish faster than a perishable. Maturity doesn’t have to wait for years. Wine has to find ways to get its taste faster. The slow cooking flavour has to be re-created, but in the reverse pace.

This is not a passing fad, it is a lifestyle. It is not optional. Jump in or be left behind. Good news and bad news get dissipated equally quick. Neither can you brood too long, nor can you celebrate for too long because the next news is at the door, waiting to be let in.

Albert Einstein had the entire varsity management gunning for him when they found he had set the same physics exam paper for two consecutive years. He smiled and replied, the questions are the same but the answers have changed.

These are testing times. Same questions now have new answers. And the answers keep changing at the blink of an eye. The game has changed, but what hasn’t changed is that, to be the best, you need to test yourself. And if you don’t change with the speed of light, the tunnel will be a never ending one.

To believe in belief

A friend was pouring his heart out to his mate. “I have given myself completely to academics and want to make a career out of it. And now my father wants me to join him in his business.”

The sympathetic mate put his arm around his friend and explained, “Isn’t that what anyone would aspire for. I would have to join my father’s business if there was one.”

“But you don’t understand”, he pressed. “I don’t believe in the business he is in, the way he goes about. In fact that’s why I put my heart and soul into academics so that I was not left without an option to do what I don’t believe in.”

There are three types of beliefs.

The first is the one that you have in processes, systems, and institutions. You may believe in education, freedom of speech or marriage.

Second is what you have in people and organizations – their performance, delivery, trust, and integrity.

Third is the one that you have in yourself – your abilities, your commitment to deliver, trust and the like.

Now you may do things with or without belief. You can have two reasons to do things without belief. The first is when you either allow yourself to be dictated by choices made by others, or simply have no choice of your own. You are either too scared to voice your opinion or you just don’t trust your opinion.

The second scenario is when you believe in the process but lack the belief in yourself. You may understand that good education can make a big difference in your life, but you don’t believe you can put the desired efforts. So while you know it can help, you lack the belief in yourself to make it happen.

While such beliefs are better than the earlier they still leave a lot to be desired. Not knowing where to go is a pain, knowing where to and not believing in your ability can leave you immobilized.

Doing something that you are capable of but don’t believe in can also prove disastrous. There is emptiness in your endeavour, and that is likely to desert you at any stage leaving you high and dry in the middle of your journey.

But when you believe in something and also have belief in yourself, the synchronization happens. The levers fall in place. You are motivated by what you want and back yourself to get it. Most achievers have this sync within.

When you channelize your energies towards what you believe in, they cascade into a momentum. The momentum empowers you to surge forward towards your goal.

One such man believed in non-violence. He believed that this was the way one could achieve when power and violence was all the world had used to conquer and achieve what they wanted. He also believed he had the wherewithal to achieve whatever he wanted despite all odds. Through his belief in non-violence he fought adversity to the hilt and with the belief in himself he not only achieved what he wanted but taught the world what he believed in.

The nation paid respect to him as a father, and the world bowed to the Mahatma.