Friday, September 11, 2009

On getting started

On getting started
Taking the first step on a journey is perhaps, the most challenging part.
when a train is about to start, if you put a stone below each of the wheels, the train wont start. The same train, going 60 mph can smash into a concrete wall 5 meters thick! Thats the power of momentum.
The amount of energy a space vehicle spends to get out of the gravitational orbit of the earth is much more than the energy required for the entire remaining trip!
There are so many things on your 'to do' list that you are just not being able to get started on.You're waiting for the right time, the right condition, the right resources, the right people, the right everything - before you start. And you keep planning to start. But nothing happens.
What is really happening here?
There are so many ways you try and push yourself to do things.So there is mental dialogue. "I should do this. I need to do this. Let me get motivated to do this. Yes I am motivated to do this".The other way is to do some self bashing "You better do this or else..."
This is an attempt to generate a lot of motivation to do, at a feeling level. You might even get started taking a few steps in the euphoria. But then, the entire effort fizzles. There are so many blogs that start with a lot of zest and then fizzle. Its like taking the first step with all your strength, doing a 100 meter sprint and then falling down.
The other way you cope with this procrastination is to think through the first step. You think through mentally the benefits of what will happen if your write. You try and summon up your discipline to write. You think through how will you go about writing. You try and park your emotions of laziness and resistence and go about writing. And you get started.
Yet another way is the NLP-Tony Robbins way. You associate 'massive pain' with not writing and a lot of 'pleasure' with writing. You get leverage on yourself by magnifiying your pain of not writing - running the most terrible images in your mind for not writing. You could also try to think of a time when you were actually in the 'flow' and try and recreate that feeling...
So what is the approach that works? I think the final combination of what works is this : It is a mix of ALL of these methods, customized to what works for you. Which means, you try all of these, not one at a time but together. This maximises thier impact.
Its like at a war, you first send out everything - your foot soldiers, your tanks, your airforce. Then you assess whats working the best - and then send more of it.
So you try everything and be very sensitized to whats working best for you - and then do it even more till the pattern gets totally reinforced for you.
Here is what I do when I want to get started with writing.
I have a small notepad file that I go through each time I am about to start writing. It reads something like this :
"Why am I not motivated enuff to write
I think I must wait for ideas before I writeI am scared of being bored
I have left so many books incomplete that I think that’s what will happen to these as well
Deep within I perhaps believe that I have nothing of value to shareIt’s a delayed gratification without instant resultsI don’t keep the end picture in mind
I am scared of breaking the discipline – because if I start in enthu once again and break the discipline (a pattern that has repeated) then all the time spent in the writing will be a waste ?"
This is no rocket science. Most of the times we know the answers - the obvious ones to why we are procrastinating. Then there are other hidden answers - new ones that will pop up. These are answers that have come out of genuine retrospection. very often we try to gloss over them i.e. try and avoid thinking through them. They keep working at the subconscious level. Try instead, to acknowledge them.
I take the next step by going into this:
" What should I think before I write
+ I will be helping people through my work+ It is self expression+ It will bring me more opportunities to speak and hence sharpen my talents and share even more+ I will love the fame and attention that will come from being an author of like 10 books! Yeah that will truly rock :D"
I think focussing on these two aspects : What is blocking you and what will inspire you, together should get you moving.
The final step thats so cliched in writing is "Just go do it" - but guess what? It works!
Dont wait for inspiration. Dont wait for ideas or thoughts. Realise that there is just no 'right time' to get started!
Just open your word processor and start typing. Before you know it you will be in the "flow". Very similar to swimming - you jump in the water, and soon you learn to float your body...
So now that we have discussed some of these techniques, its time for you to test these! So, I challenge you to get started - RIGHT NOW! Take some action and reinforce what we have just discussed.
See what works for you - and share with me how it worked.
How to make this sustain? Thats another question altogether, and I'll save it for another article.
Tell then, action first. Fire.Ready.Aim.Repeat!

Shanpatti ki chaipatti

Shaanpati ki chaipatti
My friend Arjun gave me a thought that has stuck with me ever since
When you have an iq of 140 dont act as if you have an iq of 160 but as if you have an iq of 120
Thats such an insight! The tendency for the so called intellegentia is to increasingly rely on their own intelligence - and apply it perhaps much more than is needed.
So for example when one of the 'intellegentia' gets into a meeting of the 'normal people' its a scene to watch. I call this a journey from 140 to 80 (someone wt a 140 IQ coming wt junta of 80) - there is almost a paralyzing effect! It feels like a totally different orbit - and that is true for any such 'jump'
But i think its good for a 140 to go into an 80 - it gives some touch of reality, from the high castles and ivory towers that the 140s live in. At the same time the message and communication of a 140 needs to be to an 80 and not to another 140 - there is such temptation to complicate, to go 'deeper' and so on that the message then remains only for the masses. Its like an exclusive language that only a few people can speak and relish in that speaking.
The real challenge is when you can speak in the native language of this planet - and thats 80 not 140. And given that the majority is 80, where does truth in this subjective world sit? You guessed it. 80.

Wallowing in negativity

Wallowing in negativity
I am wallowing in negativity. I dont know what to do about it. I hate the feeling. It tastes bitter. Its like a vaccum in my body that is just absorbing endless pain. What do I do?
I could do many things. I could change my focus by asking the right questions or changing my physiology. I could try EFT. Transcendental meditation is always there. Using NLP I can detach myself out of the situtation.
But I want to choose to listen. I want to experience this pain - however painful it might be. I want to be with the feeling. I want to listen to it. Attentively. I dont want to brush it away.
Becuase it comes with a message. If I dont listen to it, it will try and come back - in another form. It will speak out even louder. Or manifest itself from a voice to something physical. I dont want to dissolve it. Becuase I created it. It is my own creation - and I take full responsiblity for it.
I am just going to let it trickle in - and do whatever it wants to. It might be acid that will rust my parts within. Who knows? It could be the scapel that carves my within into beautiful murals and incarnate carvings. It could be a garden spade digging deeper - so that I may hold more joy when it comes.
I listen to the message. It calms down. There is a sense of resignation. A strange tiredness climbs up. The 'efficient' mind in me is pacing up and down calling this a sheer waste of time and energy. It perhaps is. But what is time really? This negativity takes me into the timeless, just as its partner, pleasure.
It goes but leaving a blemish...a scar...or maybe a beauty spot. It doesnt make me ugly - it only makes me more real. It doesnt create something new - it merely uncovers it.
I wish I could cry it out...but it refuses to wants to stay...maybe thats love...
It plans to be my guest for a while. We will let it be. We will let it stay. It isnt 'bad' - only another feeling. Its a part of being me - of being human.
I would love to discover why she is here...
But I think I will just let her be...she needs some rest... thoughts....let her sleep ... let her rest...let her just be...

On questions and answers

On questions and answers
On a daily basis, a number of questions keep popping up in my mind. Here, I am specifically referring to questions about myself, about my life and where I am headed. They do take me away from the present moment, but I take the luxury of entertaining them. I just like 'future pacing' I guess :)
So there are loads of thoughts - and lots of opinions. I read articles and things strike as 'insights'. I could talk to people and find out what they say. I could probably 'meditate' on the answer. Or best of all, I could follow where coincidences lead me - hoping it will be towards the answer
So one might be tempted to believe that the answer is somewhere 'out there' and you need to search for it. But a deeper look at the mechanics of this 'answer seeking' will tell us otherwise.
when I read articles, I only tend to notice that wahts strikingly in favour of or strikingly opposite of what I am planning to do. Talking to people as well, I selectively collect suggestions that typically match my thinking rather than against. Meditation is hearing my own inner voice. Coincidences again my mind will notice that what it has already set in its own mind.
Point I am trying to make is that we manifest confusion in our life out of our own choice. All the while the answer is within us. What you are really looking for is reflection. A candle cant search for light when it has light in itself - it will only realise that when it sees a reflection.
So you can broadcast your questions to the universe and wait for meaningful concidences. But watch what you are waht you are saying and watch your actions. Your actions will show you that you are collecting more data in favour of one of the options - the decision thus is already made, and you are collecting evidence to validate it...
Hence think about it...the answer lies within

Of journeys and destinations

Of journeys and destinations
One fine day after a phone conversation, my long time friend Rajiv concluded. "You have arrived my friend! I am so happy to see you in this mode. At last you are the person you were meant to be. Why didnt you do this earlier?"
His question left me pondering...why didnt I do it earlier? If I knew what it was to be 'myself at true potential' i.e. speaking, writing and enjoying life, why could I not do it earlier? Why could I not switch to that state?
On reflecting I realised that the answer was also in what Rajiv had said. "You have arrived" he said. Moving to any state is a journey - there is no 'direct' switching, though it might seem so. But can a piece of gold suddenly transform itself into jewelery? No. Becuase the journey to becoming the ornament has on its way, the heating and the hitting of the goldsmith. So as wishful as it may seem, a journey cannot be wished away to reach the destination.
When you are approaching a goal, and going through all the ups and downs and the frustrations, know that this is all a part of the journey. It is a necessary journey to take you to where you want to go. For you, there is no other path.
Because, at any time you are doing the best that you can. You are giving all that you have at that particular time. And in doing that, you are carving your path. For each one of us, the path is different. What is important is to have faith that everything that is happening is part of the path, and will lead to the destination eventually.
Its important to be patient with yourself as you travel the path - there is so much of temptation to push yourself to the edge. To try and do more. To beat yourself up when you dont live up to your own expectations. But its all on the path - patience with yourself, the perseverence, the fortitude will see you through
And once you reach the destination, you'll perhaps realise that the destination was another journey in itself. Thats a new story altogether.

Life mein fight hai!

Life Mein Fight Hai
Whosoever told you that life is all easy, smooth and happy was probably kidding. Or hadn't seen life.
Becuase if you really look at it, life is tough. Or challenging if you love transformational vocabulary. And each one of us dreams of or believes in that mystical group of people who probably have no problems, no issues, nothing tough. Such a group of course is ficticious and doesnt exist at all.
The question to ask is why do we consider a 'trouble-free' life as an ideal, as a goal? Why do we want to claim it as a right? Why believe that a 'trouble-free' life is possible?
Event + Response = Outcome
Sure there is this whole body of self help knowledge that says that you can influence what happens in your life through intent. Another philospohy is around how you can choose your response - the meaning you give to the event. I totally subscribe to both of these.
But there is no denying pain.
I remember a close friend, an editor of a personal development magazine in this regard. I had written a article critiquing a particular cult. She immediately rejected the article saying her magazine will carry only 'positive' stuff.
But to see everything as 'positive' and positive alone is denying the very duality of life...the duality of existence. Life is tough and thats how it was meant to be.
Can I then deeply experience pain as honestly as I experience pleasure? Why do I believe that pain is everlasting and pleasure is fleeting? Why dont I see them as tides in the sea of life?
Life is not tough. Life just is. The challenge for us is to be able to embrace both the happy and sad - the joy and the grief with equanimity.
This is for the philosophy part - what is the "HOW" or the "SO WHAT?"
For starters, this doesn't mean that you should focus on pain - quite the opposite, you should keep your focus on whats good. What this mean is do not resist pain. Look at pain as the demand for attention and energy by a particular part of the body or a particular area of life. But for pain, you would not pull your hand away from the fire and burn away. Pain to that extent is a warning signal - you need to ask yourself - "What is the message that this pain brings for me? What do I need to do differently?" The moment you see pain not as pain but as a signal, you suddenly shift the meaning you give it.
Second, stop cribbing and complaining that life is tough. It isnt easy or tough. It just is, and thats how it was meant to be. Its a part of being human - its a package that comes with life. ANd your happiness doesnt depend on how painful or painless your life is. Some of the happiest people in this world are those who have had the most 'difficult' lives. SO even if you believe life is tough, it doesnt give you any right to complain or crib.
Finally, do not believe that any other group of people or person has it any better. Life for each one of us is tough at some level - and easy at another. Each one of us have their own challenges. At one level that may make you feel that you have company. But on the other hand, your issues are yours and only yours. Thats a lonely thought. So count your blessings, but also embrace your pains instead of denying them or sweeping them under the carpet. Remember, for each one of us, pain is a language that the universe talks to us in.
So life may be tough - but that only means life is talking to you. It isnt mute, dumb or deaf.

Friday, November 28, 2008

On the bomb blasts

"How do you think we should respond to these bomb blasts" I asked Vinod (a.k.a Vinu baba)

"Maintain peace within" he said

The words initially seemed to be quite foolish - quite contrary to what I had expected. Instead of an action oriented, outer directed answer, baba was asking me to look inwards....

It was only after a while that the response began to resonate with me...

The aim of any act of terror is to terrorize those who witness it....what happens externally (the terror attacks) gets internalized (as terror within). It could be at many different levels - anger, fear, apathy, irritation, frustration et el....whatever it is from this set of emotions, the perpetuator of terror has managed to create an impact and imprint on your psyche, your spirit...

The first space that we need to guard from terror is our inner space.... there are many ways we can respond to these terror attacks...light candles, sign online petitions, blog about them or take peace rallies....

What is important is that the response should come from a center of peace, rather than any other. If it is any other emotion that we act out of, we are merely being counter - terrorists acting from the same lower level of awareness at which the act itself originated...

The serach for answers is just starting - as we embark on this search, we need to make sure that we act out of peace - inner peace that may  be based on the foundation of forgiveness and acceptance....thats what will be a truly non-violent reaction...

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Every program has a bug

Every program has a bug

When things go wrong with our lives, we tend to wonder. We ask the universe, 

"Why me? What did I do to deserve this!??" Somewhere we believe that this 

misfortune is only ours - there are so many people around who have better 

looks, more intelligence or way more money and opportunities. Its a tough life 


But you know what? Every program has a bug. Every person alive is facing a set 

of challenges that are unique to his or her existence. As much as you may 

believe that there are no problems like the ones you are facing...there are 

many many more people facing more complex problems. As it is said, if you 

are looking for someone with no problems, walk to the cemetry!

So every program has a bug. Its a life where we have no choice of where or to 

whom we are born. And then that means you did not choose your genes 

either...if you're weak in Math, blame it on your genes! 

Each one of us starts with a different pack of cards - a different life context. It 

is then upon us to take full responsiblity of it and grow from there onwards...

It is problems that we face that will make us stronger...its the bug in the 

program that gives some one impetus to make the next improvement, launch 

the next version...

So from Windows 1.0 we have travelled to Vista...would you say Vista is 

perfect? Far from it! And yet it has come a long long way....

So remember, every program has its own bug. You have your own problems 

and so does everyone else. Never stop becuase you are facing a problem - 

though its going to be unique be sure everyone around you has their own 

problems. If that gives you strength, know that its only problems that make us 

grow and expand.

Remember, every program has a bug.

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Cool animals that I dig....

Given a choice to be reborn, I might just opt to be an animal....

The coolest creatures, if u ask me, are frogs. You hibernate all through winter (I can relate to that inability to work when its cold - the blankets get sticky).... Then when it rains you croak the hell out (again thats what rains do to me)

I also fancy sitting lazily on some lotus leaf and flipping my long tongue to catch a fly. Thats my version of the lotus cafe....

And then just in case some princess comes to kiss me, I might just turn into a prince....

The other cool animal I dig is the camel. The look on its face is 'I dont care a damn'...its hot like hell, and its desert - and yet the camel seems to be like a totally equipped doesnt even feel bad that it has a wierd looking exudes confidence...thats what I love about them...I fancy being a camel just chewing away at the brink of some desert...

Next on the list are crocodiles... Crocs are supposed to have evolved to almost near perfection with their surroundings - so much so that they've stopped evolving....

The crocs saw the dinos and they (the crocs) still looked the same then too... its kewl to be sitting with my mouth open and some bird coming in and cleaning up my teeth

The hippos, rhinos and elephants are cool too but not so cool becuase they're heavy - not watching their weight....

I like Giraffes too - they are like those extra humble tall men who seem like perfect gentlemen...atleast till when they speak....

Of course I'd love to be a bird, not only becuase this would let me fly, but also becuase it will let me shit on anyone while flying naked in the air! 

I dont wanna be an ant - i think antz are too work obsessed in life... I prefer the more chilled out ones...

I could think about being a religious praying mantis for example....

I dont wanna be fish either - I generally am not too fond of water and living in it, along with transperant eyelids that fish are supposed to have, and swim all the time, i know thats not for me...

for now I'm happy being the most complex animals of all - human


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Times...they're changin!

Happened to interact with a few kids and teachers at a nearby school....what came out was a fascinating description of how life for the tweens has changed - and radically so...

Out goes beating in the class...I was even hesitant to ask if the practice of class beating (entire class getting pasted) exists... Students were smart enough to bring cut outs of court orders against beating up kids and put them on bulletin boards or tell teachers about it....

Poor school teachers...given that most students have classes as a backup and very little fun time, they begin to see school as entertainment....the school on the other hand does not have enough time to finish the portion - it needs to rush through creating a tuff-to-understand situation for schools...

Its hard to tell what exists becuase of what - but somewhere our education quality at schools got derailed and that gave birth to the coaching classes industry - today the sheer size of the coaching classes industry is a witness to this quality drain in schools...and if only schools would have time enough to teach all thats needed, students are prepared to say no to classes...

Teaching quality is not an issue since the same teachers teach at class as well as it just boils down to the fact that in order to run more batches, schools run SSC in lesser time, and as a result have students going to classes which then again means that schools can get away with bad teaching...

The other interesting aspect was the cross gender pairing - something that might have happened in 9th or 10th at our times now happens as early as 4th or it hyper progress or innocence lost - the sheer exposure that this generation of kids has makes it almost impossible to  manage them, forget control altogether....

Kids are also far more pressurized - by parents and peers alike...and yet many of them are clear about what career they want and how studying well fits into the picture - almost half the group of 15 odd kids I was talking to knew what they wanted to get into...

Orkut is another aspect - a supervisor of the cambridge part of the school actually was on orkut and monitored activities of her students on the network...

Its a new generation and they only get faster, smarter and better :) 

Its time to find new ways to manage this gang - rather than sit back passively and watch it go outta bounds...

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Good bye, CAT

And so the CAT sunday passed away....some 2.5 lakh people taking the exam for less than 2000 seats (even lesser if you bring in the admission quotas and reservation math)

I haven't been too different when it comes to CAT - I used my performance in CAT to judge my self worth...and it was pretty kewl becuase I ended up with a good percentile - good enuff to get into an IIM

In retrospect I tend to talk about the event as if I had totally mastered my strategy. I talk as if I knew or I could predict what would happen and how I had the exact strategy for it. I often find myself talking to glaze eyed CAT aspirants about what my 'strategy' to crack the paper was.

Truth to be told - every admission into an IIM has a huge element of luck - at times it is your day and at times its not. As hard it may be to accept - its fortune from the start. Being born in a certain background with some aptitudes, having them developed and right upto that paper on that day which turned out to be "crackable"

Knowing how narrow the odds are in terms of making it, a huge chunk apparently registers but does not appear at all....and then there are the rest - who except for the top 1000 - 2000 return to next year perps or head to some other B School...

I dont know what goes on in their heads when they flunk the CAT - but I am sure its not anything too pleasant. 

Why let an external exam judge you? Why take the verdict of CAT on a certain aptitude of your life as THE BLANKET VERDICT on all your life?

You may have bought into the hype created by the zillion CAT coaching classes about the IIMs - but now if you havent made it, its time to get unsold on it. 

It is sure a very difficult challenge - but dont let your esteem take a hit for not making it at CAT. Know that success and satisfaction in life are no ways a biproduct of whether your BSchool name starts with 2 Is.

And the IIPM starts with 2 I's as well ;)

So good that CAT's finally over.... with all that it creates for all of us - Good bye, CAT :)

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Friday, November 14, 2008

The compulsive buddha

The middle path is often the best alternative it is said...and yet to me it has always contradicted at some level to committing to action - I mean how can you succed without full committment? Will moderation in that be right at all?

Personally when I look at my own situation though, I need to regulate my moods. It is a medical necessity rather than just a choice - so I am aware. I monitor how I feel in a detached manner (or atleast try to) and also regulate that extent its the compulsive buddha.

I duno if given a choice I'd take this - I have always loved to live life at the maximum...letting joys be ecstacys and feeling the pain also deep within...thats what I was... and I think thats what reached a peak and its unsustainablity broke it down....

The challenge really is to be grounded and then experience all the joy and grief there is to- to me the experiencing of these at the deepest level made me feel more human, more alive...

However the middle path is also not as bad - its living in awareness of my moods rather than being swayed by them...

So for now I can call the compulsive buddha as a wise consequence, a great choice! 

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On experts and expertise

I think expertise is grossly overrated.

As Anush points out, its the Einstien phenomenon. If Einstien's intelligence doubled in a flash, no one will be able to tell except Einstien himself. So for that matter we will have to take his word for it...

I went into a meeting today where the guy, almost to intimidate asks me, "Are you a technical man?"

"No not really" I say. Though there is a nerd alive within me, I decide to keep it straight...

"Then you wont understand a thing" he smirked.

Over the hour though he went on to explain the most common scientific aspects of his work - very simple core fundamentals that just needed some curiousity, some patience to understand. It was not complicated at all - and all the while he kept saying 'its complicated, its complicated'

I think the problem with expertise is manifold. For one, if you don't know what you don't know, it becomes almost impossible to estimate the quantum of what you don't know. And in that case even marginally better knowledge can seem expertise...

Then again people who posess this expertise jelously guard it - as businesses it is their trade secret while as individuals its their point of differentiation - something that keeps them as experts and maintains status quo

But I strongly believe that the fundamentals of any field are simple and can be understood without too much effort - basics are after all what they're meant to be - basic.

Whenever I have tried to dig beneath the surface for understanding a certain field, the truly secure 'experts' have freely shared...while there have been others who sit and protect their domains very seriously

As a society as we grow, knowledge is increasingly becoming more complex...and hence the temptation to rely on experts in each field...but that doesnt mean common sense should go for a should be there, around....

And as you explore and learn about more different things, you'll not only release the innate curious child within you but also see the beautiful patterns that emerge across fields and the often unbelievable correlations of beauty and knowledge...

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fragmented v/s Integrated living

I just did a great post about JD writing (something we do for a living) and then removed it almost immediately....its a risk to post anything connected to work - especially when it has a nuiscence quotient....

And Anush in a timely manner warned me, apart from talking about a press release where 13 Virgin Atlantic employees were fired due to joking about the airline!

The one thing I dont like about jobs - or corporate work for that matter is that it forces us to constantly split between the personal and professional...

For many this might be a great idea - after all the personal and professional must be fragmented...separated for convinience and separated as a principle

However to me, the principle of integrated living appeals much more - I am one person and all of me exists at any point of time. There may be parts of me which are not needed in a certain context those I am ready to put to back. But if someone goes out there deliberately to fish information for me and then use it - that is something that is an issue with me.

But then no-nonsense corporates are best left to their own means - and for me its self regulation all the way

Interesting stuff has happened at Orkut also - my orkut profile is written based on the transitions that I have gone through - now very often our relatives are not acquainted with these... So suddenly my description on orkut alarmed a cousin who immediately brought it to the notice of mom....

Now honestly I'd love it if I am left by myself - but thats again asking for parts of me to be hidden away from people they are not relevant too.... Its quite a contradiction of sorts you see...

Net Net I dont think anyone or anything in my context is ready to see all of me - not even myself! Why even when I see myself in the mirror I dont see all of me - I just see a side of me! Then doosre kya cheeze hain

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