How badly do you want to grow?


This is an old Greek fable about a scholar who went to Socrates.

He travelled the length of the world and learned about all the wisdom available, his name was Cicero and he went to Socrates in an attempt to learn what no one else could teach him.

Once Socrates found this out, he refused to teach Cicero. He begged, pleaded and finally managed to convince Socrates to at least hear his plea.

Walking by the seashore, Cicero was trying to convince Socrates to be his mentor when suddenly the wise Socrates walked chest-deep into the sea.

Cicero walked behind him and stopped. Socrates looked into his eyes and asked Cicero, ‘what do you want?’ To this Cicero replied, ‘I want your wisdom and I want to learn’. Socrates smiled, pushed Cicero inside water and forcefully kept him there for a while.

Once he came out of water and had almost lost his breath, Socrates asked again, ‘what do you want?’ Cicero realized it was a test of some kind and loudly replied, ‘I want your wisdom and I want to learn’ only louder this time.

On hearing this, Socrates pushed him into water again and let him stay there longer. Once Cicero came out of water, he was panting heavily and had almost drowned; Socrates asked again, ‘What do you want?’ Cicero knew that it was a test of some kind and replied in even louder voice, ‘I want your wisdom and I want to learn’. Socrates smiled again and pushed Cicero back into the water.

This time Socrates pushed him hard until Cicero fought his way out, panting and pale, unable to understand Socrates’ behaviour. Socrates asked him again, ‘what do you want?’ Cicero arrogantly answered ‘I want to breathe’!

Socrates smiled and said, ‘the day you want to learn as bad as you wanted to breathe, come back to me and I will teach.’

Moral: It is important that you really want to learn, without that even joy is just a compulsion. When we want something badly and strive to get it with the whole of heart and mind – We do!

Dreams,Faith &; a Beer Belly!



Dreams

I believe some things are just not meant to be. Impossible means ‘I am possible’ I like the tagline, but it is just always a tagline. I am a conformist, I have been a conformist all my life.

I care about what is possible and I have a problem when people get too ambitious. It’s okay to get ambitious but some things are possible, some are not. That is a well established fact..Who doesn’t think so ?

But I dream, I dream about a BMW in the next 3 years and a big 4 bedroom house with 5-star like interiors, a study, play area and even parking ,and here is the biggest one ‘all in Gurgaon’ in the next 5 years. Dreaming has taught me to dream more and dream big – correction, day-dream more and day-dream big, Day-dream on!

To daydream is to think and to think is to learn. Now learning is not compulsory, neither is survival. W.Edwards Deming said that.

Today, lets learn to- day dream !

Since I was a kid, I have known what to do, when. Mostly I was told, with examples and valid references and an explanation that was designed to convince me  that it’s either this way or no way at all!

Whether to take commerce or Science, whether to wear full pant or half. Whether to eat now or later ( It is a standard ‘now’ for me to this always!)But I fixed the way it works. Or so I thought, while all I fixed, were just limitations for myself. Beliefs about how things can and can’t be done.

I even tried to fix the society, the systems and cultures – I never asked  questions before because I knew, ‘kool’ people don’t ask too many questions, Amitabh Bacchan didn’t, neither did superman – they always just have the answers.

Then I came to work and realized I need to be accountable – how would I look like if I ask for help, which big guy at work ever did that? …and I never escalated, even the things that I should have.

Then I got married, and I hated shopping, I told everyone so while I spent 3 hours picking the right suit to wear today. But don’t tell anyone that, because we Men, don’t like shopping!

I did these things because either someone told me to or it looked socially acceptable or at least logically possible! It’s funny how this is not just an issue with people.

Even large organizations do this. A leading camera film maker with over a century of business experience, almost ran out of business because they stuck on to the cash cow of film photography products in spite of having developed the digital tech. Clingy!

Such thought has a definition – RTP ( Rational thinking perspective) , now we all know rational is right. Don’t we?

Rational thinking perspectives are good because they educate us about our possibilities.

A man with a body on which nothing moves. Stuck to a bed for all his life. The only RTP I could think of is ‘Mercy Killing. Stephen Hawking.

Another man contracted polio as a child, and he used a wheelchair for a while. He devised his own exercises to strengthen his legs. The only RTP I could think would be to learn typing and shorthand. He went on to become one of the most successful Olympic athletes of all time, winning 10 gold medals. In the years 1900, 1904 and 1908. With about 1 % of the means and methods of today, none of the modern medicine and no google for instant advice or Facebook for popularity. Ray Ewry. How many did we as a country win in the last Olympics?

There is a another side of this coin,  it is called Generative thinking perspective (GTP), which is governed by intuition, faith and conviction. You do what you feel right.

Hey I have an idea, how about I leave everything and start a new website where all people can connect online, maybe we can call it FACEBOOK. Oops, that’s taken, by a Harvard student who dropped out to pursue a website and left what could have been an amazing job in the silicon valley which would have paid millions, in dollar. That’s Zuckerberg and think of the Steve Jobs if you will.

Another man who did not make so much money but taught me most about GTP was my father. I learnt this later, and I will get to it in a bit.

I am sure some of us could have answered these questions about rationale or gut, but when I was 16, I never could. It was so tough to get all this sorted because I had never seen anyone ask these questions before, there was no guidance available. To be logical or to  day-dream was as tough as answering shakespere’s ‘to be or not to be’?

Dream = 1,600,000,000 (160 Crores) ,references on Google. If so many people talk about this must me something good.

Faith

What do we learn out of day-dreaming. One dream that lasts long enough and is desired bad enough gives birth to faith.

Faith leads to only two things, We learn to Regret or we learn to Perform.

When I was 13, I lost my father to a heart attack, his 13th – 4 major and 9 minor. The last one was minor. Even on his last day he was in a client meeting after 1 very successful job, 5 failed businesses and 1 somewhat livable construction venture. Bed rest was the only rational thing but he pushed because he had immovable faith that he can.

That’s GTP.

So, when I went home, saw his dead body and had absolutely no clue of what to do. Maybe stupid, but I was still thinking about what to do? I had an idea, I wanted to get a live wire and give him an electric shock. In our movies they do it to anyone who is unconscious. Maybe that will work!

So I went and told my mother this, who smiled and continued crying. I never got to do that. But even today, every time I think of my father, I regret not doing that. What if he stood up?

‘What if’ is a big question. Is there anyone, anyone at all in this gathering who has not asked themselves a question starting with ‘what if’ ?

To do is better than to regret. Haven’t we all had those days when we thought, ‘I should have said something to that girl, I should have bought that thing, I should have learnt that art and last but not the least, I should have paid attention.’

Thousands of people with ideas as brilliant as nano, brail, chocolate and algebra.(Cut algebra out, wasn’t a brilliant idea) go to work, come back home and push it to tomorrow and years later they ask themselves ‘what if’.

It is really easy to confirm to things, we believe them to be true, mostly blindly.

While you read this in the last 7 minutes and 30 seconds based on the number of words, 810 people confirmed to death with all their ideas which will never be heard again. Ideas but not dreams!

All I wish is that, before I die, I could leave this world with one idea that continues to live even after I die.Dreaming is non conformity, some us do it because we are allowed to.Some of us do it because we have to. And even death cannot make a dream confirm to it.

This article was titled dreams, faith and a beer belly. We spoke about dreams and faith. Here is the Beer belly, and I believe, I look better with it than without it, I am comfortable with it. Because 1 more tablespoon of belief is the only thing missing from our lives.

P.S. I wrote this article primarily for the speech at a  TED Event. Though it was changed eventually these thoughts have had my minds occupied. What would you consider yourself; A conformist or a non-conformist?

You can even view the my TED talk at this link : http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxGurgaon-Abhinandan-Chatterj

How hard can life be?


True Story |

This is the story of a man who started out as a shopkeeper, had a small electronic store in the suburbs of a small suburban town.

He got married, had a kid and his needs multiplied. The shop couldn’t fulfill them anymore, so, he took up a job – as medical sales executive.

He worked his way up the ladder in his company, it took years, but just like most of us he was getting there too!

He bought a house and a car and put his sons into a good school.

Like most of us, he had dreams too. He wanted a happy family, status, luxury and he worked his way through the thick and thin of things to get it.

Like most of us, he was proud of the way things were going.

Since nothing lasts forever, that is when unlike most of us, he had a heart attack. His dream was now shuffling between life support, expensive pills and medical bills.

Deserted by his friends and relatives, he lost his house as he couldn’t pay the loan, sold his car because there was a need to get food for the wife and kids – burned all his life’s savings in an attempt to live!

Just when he was about done, modern medicine gave him a second chance. He was going to live a little longer than he expected.

That led to questions about sustaining his family, which he couldn’t do by being on the bed rest the doctor summoned him to. Perhaps death was easier but it wasn’t meant to be so.

He left the bed, stopped the rest and went back to work; nobody wanted to hire him as they feared he would die on them. He was either honest or foolish, but he never lied.

He did get a job at last and soon another seizure of the heart followed. This was a big one too and he was left hollowed.

They were practically on the streets and then the mother took it on her to work. His son was still in the ‘good-school’ where the fee wasn’t paid for 7 months now. They let him study out of love for a smart kid, some courtesy and a bit of pity. For us it is a small world, for them it was a big city.

The mother worked, taught tuitions to run the family.

After his medical vacation even the father stood up against the ruling of the world – to work. God knows what drove him through this, but he said, “We will celebrate your next birthday son, this time we are not doing it because the doctor wants us not to.”  It was just a lame excuse for the little kid that kept him content.

As his father started his own business, he was struggling with poor finances, health, security and his own dreams. Astonishingly, the dreams were not dead.

He worked hard for the next few years and bought back his car, paid his son’s school fee and had food on the table, regularly.

Meanwhile, he had 10 minor and one major heart attack before he passed away leaving a wife and two kids behind. He did not leave them much money but he worked till the last day of his life to achieve the RESULT he dreamt of.

He left his family with the courage to move on, the persistence to fight and the mindset to win.

Moral: Every goal needs the right mindset to ensure its achievement. It depends only on how badly you want something which decides how soon you could get it

Metamorphosis – The little bloke


It knew not how to be born,

Yet it broke its way through the shell

On a wicked branch it crawled its way

A lavishing leaf it could tell.

 

Crowning his way amidst the fear,

Dreading to be consumed!

He took his hundred steps together,

His fate was un-assumed.

 

It grew and grew and seasons stayed

Untill one day he froze,

‘The End’ is that what it was ?

Or was it just another prose.

 

His heart began a slower pound

And harder grew his cocoon

A parched leaf was his final ground

He knew not the Sun or Moon

 

Change was constant, life was not

Nobody told him this !

What next? was next and bed was hot

Wonder what he would wish?

 

Tough times as they were then

he started sensing his beat

Now he could hear the chirping birds

and he could feel the heat !

 

Soon enough a ray of light

made it to his eyes

a herculean hole lay ahead

but he had to rise!

 

He pushed and pushed till he could breathe

and hours felt like days

He was now a different bloke

and different was his ways

 

He walked not but he could fly

a different world he saw

He had his pain and found his pleasure

He then called a draw…

 

 

Life


I don’t see the end is near

Close up shots of my fear

Put in words, but not so clear

And I wonder, why should I rise…

 

Divine riots in my head

Bloody fights for a piece of bread

Books on wisdom never read

A dog-eat-dog world ahead…

 

An aching heart with thoughts amiss

Love is out to take a piss

Serpents whine with a louder hiss

all I need is a caring kiss…

 

Happiness is just so scarce

Save as much for life’s stare

Sad are stories with no end

Dark and gloomy – now a trend…

 

And just then I see the sun

out of darkness, on the run

though it knows its life in hours

Shines upright with a blazing gun…

 

you should be the best you see

so what? If the darkness falls

only then will you feel the light

if you walk through the darker walls…

 

If i were the sun, i feel

ill be thinking why to rise?

 

The night will come as the end is near

I could choose to live in fear

‘To live now is the ‘present’

and with death comes no prize’

With this thought I am clear.

On Motivation


So there I was , in my bedroom , at 3 in the morning all alone – At my lazy best ; when out of nowhere I saw a  wasp in the room , after being bothered for a few seconds , I got back to viewing TV until…

…that bloody wasp was just an inch from my face, and then I ran , I screamed , I picked up my newspaper and tried to hit it , I picked up my slippers and jumped to reach it around the roof, all in vain but I did not give up. I got a broom with a long stick and galloped at it for 30 minutes before I could make it rest in peace. Huh… Man was I tired!

This is how life moves – Go deeper and you will find the secret of all motivation in this incident.

Humans are emotional beings , they are motivated by either pleasure or pain. We get late and then we panic because now we can loose things. We sit and watch ‘Facebook’ until there are stomach cramps due to hunger. We wait and wait and wait before we go to the doctor. We act only when we see some pain or some pleasure attached to doing or not dong that action.

It’s either high pain or a high pleasure that makes us move; when moderate it pushes us to the zone of complacency, laziness and ignorance.

Allow me to draw a couple of similarities between the way this story has worked and the way motivation happens:

Exhibit A : Commonwealth 2010 – We were sitting on the idea for 10 years flat , now that it is matter of national pride everyone is pushed to work at the brink of the event.

Exhibit B: Similarly, when the wasp was in my room I dint care until it came close to my face and I felt threatened.

Both these situations are high pain situations where the fear of loss was the motivator. As we know that pain is not the only motivator, we have a stint with pleasure too , let me share what I feel about it .

Exhibit A: On a personal note, whenever I have been out on a date, the amount of effort I put in to make that date a success was correlated to how beautiful the woman was. More beauty means more effort.

Exhibit B: There is a friend of mine, Renuka; she works with a renowned credit card company. They have an interesting office and since she is into sales the pressure is always on. She is an average performer.

Here is how she works – She closes on an average 2 credit card applications every day. However when there  is a scheme running for a 1000 INR shopping voucher for every 5 Credit Card Applications closed , she manages 10 of them and grabs the vouchers – Only she and the devil knows where those come from.

These are classic examples of the high pleasure principle. How great pleasure pushes people to act. The question that arises now is ‘How can you use this Pain and Pleasure Principle to motivate yourself?”

Here is what I do, I Question the possibilities with ‘What if?” questions and drive the issue to high pain or high pleasure.

Example: I need to lose weight but lack the motivation; I am not that heavy yet 😉

Q: What if I don’t lose it? A: I will be very obese.

Q: What if I become very obese? A: I will be less active and more prone to serious health issues like heart and orthopedic.

Q: How will all this make me feel? A: Embarrassed, as I won’t look good. Unhappy as I might get cranky and insecure. Heavy at heart as I will not be the one I used to be.

Conclusion:

A: To keep feeling better and live a healthy life I will lose it!( High Pleasure Perspective)

B: To live a normal life and not be bedridden by the time I am 40, I will lose it! (High Pain Perspective)

This is what we call WIIFM (Whats in it for me?)

Motivation is nothing but the result of a strong WIIFM.

How strong is yours? Go Find.