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Month: January 2024

Scary Antonym

What is the opposite of fear?





Well, none of these are wrong. But they aren’t a 100% correct either, because to eradicate fear, we need something strong and permanent.

So what is such a thing?


With adequate devotion, even the deepest of fears melt away. Why fear when the Lord is here?

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Defective plan

When you’re gunning for the top post, and someone thinks you’re not worth it, how does that make you feel?

Not good, right?

A recent interview by US Republican ex-candidate Vivek Ramaswamy was outstanding.

A lady in the audience asked him whether he would accept being a VP to Trump (her implicit assumption being that Trump would win and be President).

Vivek said that he would always put his country first, and do what was needed. But also that he felt he was the right choice to run America.

The lady then said that his answer sounded like “a maybe”.

To which Vivek said, “I gotta tell you about a defect I’ve got. You need to know because you gotta know your President has a defect. And that defect is, that I never have a Plan B!”

A masterclass in handling hecklers if there was one! But more than that, it shows extraordinary confidence in one’s abilities. Could he lose? Yeah, anything can happen, and I don’t remotely understand politics, so that’s not even the point. But if we could all work as though we had no plan B’s, how cool would that be?!

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Proof of investment

It’s funny how human nature rarely changes.

And this is exactly why all our scriptures, although written thousands of years ago, are still as relevant today as they were back then!

In the investing world, maybe a few decades ago, people would make basic mistakes like buying high and then getting wiped out in a market crash. Why’d they do that? Because they didn’t have enough information. About companies, about markets, about stocks. No internet, no information.

Hence, buy, because it seems like a get rich quick scheme, and hey the neighbor is in on it too!

Fast forward to today, and what has changed? Lack of information has changed to an overdose of information. But has this translated into wisdom? Hardly. Greed and fear still rule the roost, and hence the basal human nature is absolutely unchanged.

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Flying wheel

In business, concepts like the ‘flywheel effect’ and ‘virtuous cycle’ signify momentum from strategic actions. Surprisingly, these ideas also illuminate the spiritual path, particularly when exploring the synergy of humility and gratitude.

Humility sets this spiritual flywheel in motion. It’s a grounding force, reminding us of our small yet significant role in the universe. This humble perspective naturally ushers in gratitude – a deep appreciation for life’s often overlooked blessings.

Gratitude, in return, fuels humility. The more we express thanks, the more we recognize our interconnectedness and limitations. This understanding fosters deeper humility.

Together, humility and gratitude create a self-reinforcing cycle, each strengthening the other. This dynamic duo not only propels personal growth but also brings us closer to the core of spirituality, turning every humble acknowledgment and thankful moment into a step towards inner peace.

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Balanced sequence

Where does work-life balance start?

Obviously it starts with work, because it’s the first word, right?


Thinking about work-life balance as first balancing work and then attempting to balance life, is probably why we always feel imbalanced all the time.

So what to do then?

Invert it perhaps.

Start with life balance first. And within that, begin with the self.

Once we keep enough time for our own reading, prayers, meditation, chanting etc., our soul will feel nourished.

Then we can automatically be better and more humane with our families.

Which in turn will make us better at work. Balance achieved!

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Trusted, but how?

Everyone wants to be trusted. But how does one build this trust? How can one assume the role of a trusted advisor to someone else?

Here’s a super formula I came across in a training slide from one Simitri Group.

Trusted Advisor = (Trust + Liking) / Self-interest

How does one build trust? Trust comes from consistency, transparency, competence, reliability, and empathy.

And Liking? Liking comes from common interests, positive interactions, similar values, empathy, and active listening.

Self-interest, or rather not putting Self-interest first, is key.

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Mindful Marathon

Embarking on a marathon transcends testing physical stamina; the true challenge lies in cultivating muscle strength. This serves to ensure cramp prevention.

How does one do this? From nothing less than dedicated strength training.

Is there any dedicated strength training for the mind? Yes there is, and it is called satsang!


By engaging in prayer, scriptures, chanting, and meditation.

In life’s marathon, achieving harmony between mental resilience and enduring muscles is the ultimate victory.

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Destination to where?

If you wanted to go to a particular city, and were standing at the station to get a ticket, what would be the most important info you’d need to give at the ticket counter?

The number of buffaloes in the destination?

The kind of cars that people drive there?

The type of cheese folks prefer to eat?

The types of buildings that city has?


Would it simply be the name of the place?

Surely the name, isn’t it?

As Saint Gondavalekar Maharaj says, such is the importance of nama. If we take the name of place to go to a destination, we must take the name of the Lord if we want to reach him.

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Blind faith or blind fate

It’s funny how many people hide behind the garb of “blind faith”. This is especially so when it comes to putting one’s religious or spiritual beliefs up.

While it is not possible to generalize, the younger generations are perhaps lesser connected to their roots compared to a few generations prior.

“It’s impossible for me to have blind faith in God. I’ll first need evidence.”

Where’s the evidence for gravity? It still exists though doesn’t it.

But the solution is really not about faith but about action. Spirituality and religion impact human beings at their core. Spirituality is experiential. If a certain process is followed as mentioned in the scriptures, the outcome will follow, no doubt about that. But how many people even give the process a try?

It’s easier to hide behind the veil of “blind faith” than to lift a finger. Such laziness will lead only to blind fate. Can’t be criticising the system then!

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Came across a book on mantras that presented an interesting distinction.

It said that there are 3 types of mantras. Sattvik, rajasik and tamasik. Yes you probably guessed that already the moment you read “3 types of”. Pretty much anything on Vedic spirituality can be categorized under these 3 buckets it seems.

What I found interesting, was that while the letters and words making up the mantras themselves may not be Sattvik, rajasik or tamasik, the intent of the one chanting perhaps makes it more so.

The book said that a tamasik mantra is one that is aimed at controlling and harming others. A rajasik mantra on the other hand is useful for our wants – a bigger house, a bigger car, more money, more fame etc.

And what’s a Sattvik mantra for? For all the good stuff, like progress in spirituality, for collective achievements such as the furtherance of dharma etc. Interestingly, even things like food, money and house etc. can be clubbed under Sattvik mantras, but only as long as these are basic needs. Once the focus graduates to greed, it’s not Sattvik anymore!

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Our man in dolce vita

There’s a super fun travel TV show called Our Man in Italy and the protagonist / anchor is a familiar one. James May, as we might know preciously as one of the 3 hosts of the superb automotive TV show called Top Gear, takes the helm here.

It’s great fun, because he travels from one country to another, and covers all the important cities and landmarks, giving us a vicarious look of what could be.

In Italy in particular, James is told to search for “la dolce vita”, or “the sweet life”.

What does this mean? Well usually it would be a lot of money, fame, wine, good cheese and pizza, a good house, and generally chilling. Seems sweet for sure.

But during the episode, James notices his own Italian guide simply staring at an old Vespa – one of the famous Italian manufactured 2-wheelers. The man is so in love with the Vespa that he continues to stare, unaware of the world whizzing past him.

Later on, he confides in James. “Buddy, who cares about money and wine and cheese. That Vespa moment was my dolce vita because I was completely at peace!”

What is your dolce vita?

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Are we close to being overtaken by AIliens? Yes not the aliens from other planets, but the AI that we humans have created? Not that I have made any contributions whatsoever in the creation of AI, but it does collectively seem like quite an advancement in technology.

It may seem like AI and robots are taking over, but as a Tamilian would exclaim, the “aiyo” moment is probably not here yet. Here’s a piece I was reading from one FEI FEI Li, a computer scientist and a pioneer of the artificial intelligence boom.

"There's just so much complexity in human brain science that is still a mystery. We don't know how we do that in under 30 watts, the energy the brain uses. How come we're so terrible at math while we are so fast at seeing and navigating and manipulating the physical world? The brain is the infinite source of inspiration for what artificial intelligence should be and should do. I feel human intelligence should be the benchmark to judge Al and not the other way round."

There we have it. The One who has created us is far far ahead in this race for creation. In any case, anything we create is also a part of His creation only.

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Improved decision making

How does one make good decisions?

Well, it’s not easy for sure. And some would say that the decision itself doesn’t matter, much, and that it’s the follow through that’s truly critical.

But many people and organizations get stuck at the time of making a decision itself. Analysis paralysis. What to do in such cases?

Jeff Bezos the founder of Amazon provided a stellar method, in one of his letters to shareholders back in 2015.

He said that the focus should simply be on whether the decision is reversible or not. If it is, then go ahead, make a decision, and don’t waste further time on discussing whether the decision itself is the right one or not. Explore and exploit. If things don’t work out, the decision can anyway be reversed.

Of course, if the decision is irreversible, then take adequate care, planning and strategizing, before making the final call.

A great focus point I think, in order to keep moving ahead in life!

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Open center

There’s a lot of people who claim that their chakras or energy centers are open. Or have been opened.

This may or may not be true, and I for one certainly am no one to judge.

Some say their ajna chakra has been opened and that they can plunge into deep meditation instantaneously. Others focus on the mooladhara chakra and can go into deeper states.

Of course such things can and do happen. Even if words like kundalini might be thrown around recklessly and find much media attention, that does not imply it is apocryphal.

More critical, as my Guru often reminds us, is what such folks (and everyone in general) do after they snap out of their trances. Are they truly seeking the Self, or simply self-centered?

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Scientist’s religion

Here’s a cool anecdote I came across in a book (don’t remember the name unfortunately).

“I met a man a few days ago in Washington, D.C. who, while a student in Delhi, had met Dr. Radhakrishnan, the second President of India. He had asked Dr. Radhakrishnan “Sir, since you are also a great philosopher, can you explain the difference between science and religion, as there seems to be a contradiction between the two? Religion speaks of something that is not seen and people have faith in that. But in science one accepts only what one sees, so it appears that scientists are anti-religion and faithless.”

Dr. Radhakrishnan gave a very nice answer. He said, “A little science takes you away from religion but more of it brings you nearer religion.”

This suggests that scientific exploration can ultimately lead to profound spiritual understanding. It’s a reminder that the pursuit of knowledge, whether through science or spirituality, can lead to unexpected revelations about the world and ourselves.

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Smart work hard work

There’s this endless debate about smart work versus hard work. You know it. And I don’t have an answer for it unfortunately (else I’d already be atop the ladder of the billionaire lists you see!).

Lords Ganesha and Karthikeya also had a tiff on the same topic with the elephant headed one simply circumambulating his parents thrice instead of traveling the whole world.

But can one be more right than the other?

We are told to work hard, right from childhood. And it’s necessary. Then why pray? So many mantras and deities exist in India who are supposed to help deliver outstanding results. Just pray and all will be well no? No need to work hard only.

But there’s a catch! A mantras book I was reading gave a specific mantra for Goddess Lakshmi, which if recited, would bring extraordinary wealth. But the specifics? The mantra had to be chanted 100-thousand times, 5 times a day. That sounds like hard work to me too! No free lunches…

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Putting in the hours

Does praying a lot make one automatically divine?

Does sitting in a meditative pose for hours mean one will automatically reach Brahman?

Unlike investing, where time spent matters, in spirituality, time spent matters, but perhaps much less.

We know of asuras who spent insane numbers of hours in penance. But are they prayed to or well respected?

If time doesn’t matter, then what does?

Perhaps the intention of the prayer matters the most. As that would cleanly differentiate prayers of the bad versus the good, wouldn’t it?

A sadhana that is practiced for the enhancement of one’s own ego becomes asuric. As simple as that perhaps. And we know what ego means – not the pride that we associate the English word with, but rather the incorrect attachment to the body.

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Dutifully full

One must be fully focused on ones own duty. Ones swadharma. Lord Krishna calls this out in the 35th verse of the 3rd chapter of the Gita. Here’s an excellent take by Shri Vinoba Bhave in his book called “Talks on the Gita”. He gave these talks when he was jailed for being a part of India’s freedom fight movement!

It is not good for me to adopt another's dharma, however superior it may appear to be. I like sunlight. It helps my growth. I worship the sun. But my rightful place is here on this earth. If I leave the earth and try to get close to the sun, I would be burnt to ashes. Compared to the sun, the earth may appear worthless; it may not be self-luminous, still I should strive for self-development by staying on the earth, which is my rightful place, so long as I lack the capacity to stand the sun's powerful blaze. If someone were to say to a fish, "Milk is more luxurious than water. Come and swim in the milk", will it accept? It can survive in water only; in milk it will die.

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Big bang practice

Everyone knows the amazing TV show called The Big Bang Theory – a sitcom where socially awkward but extraordinarily brilliant scientists navigate life, love, and comic books, often proving that even geniuses don’t know everything about the real world!

In a prequel adaptation called Young Sheldon (the smartest scientist of the lot), his mother Mary posts a question.

Mary: Sheldon, faith means believing in something you can’t know for sure is real. And right now, I am struggling with that.
Sheldon: So you don’t believe in God anymore?
Mary: That isn’t something for you to worry about. I need to figure this out myself.
Sheldon: Can I help? Maybe I could provide a fresh perspective.
Mary: I don’t think so, baby.
Sheldon: Did you know that if gravity were slightly more powerful, the universe would collapse into a ball?
Mary: I did not.
Sheldon: Also, if gravity were slightly less powerful, the universe would fly apart and there would be no stars or planets.
Mary: Where you going with this, Sheldon?
Sheldon: It’s just that gravity is precisely as strong as it needs to be. And if the ratio of the electromagnetic force to the strong force wasn’t one percent, life wouldn’t exist. What are the odds that would happen all by itself?
Mary: Why are you trying to convince me to believe in God? You don’t believe in God.
Sheldon: I don’t, but the precision of the universe at least makes it logical to conclude there’s a creator.

Food for thought?

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G-force multiplier

Many people say that God will take care of everything. Or if they are in a rut, then no worries because their Guru will take care of everything. “All is well. All is always well.” But what does this really mean? Is this possible? Can a Guru sitting somewhere actually take care of everything?

Yes it is, and only experience can build such faith. There is no difference between Guru and God. As we know, poet Kabir das once said that if he had to fall at the feet of either of God or his Guru, and both were at his doorstep the same instant, he would choose his Guru. Why? Because the Guru is the one who taught him about God in the first place!

We can only perform our karma, our actions. Over 99.99% of what’s happening around us is not in our control. Who’s taking care of those, if not the divine?

In essence, embracing this belief is not about surrendering responsibility but recognizing a greater cosmic harmony. Our actions, infused with sincerity and purpose, become part of a grander scheme, orchestrated by the divine. The Guru, as a guide, reveals this interconnectedness, teaching us to see beyond the immediate. To trust in a larger plan.

So, while we navigate life’s complexities, we do so with a heart full of faith, understanding that, in the grand tapestry of existence, every thread is held and woven by a force much greater than ourselves. In this realization, we find not just solace, but a profound sense of being part of something infinitely vast, yet intimately connected to our every step. That’s the G-force.

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Historical anxiety

We think we are struggling with stress and anxiety today, despite seemingly having the best of the best that technology can offer.

Was this always the case?

Our existence is a tapestry rich with ancestral threads, spanning not just the last 400 years but reaching far deeper into the annals of human civilization.

Within just say the last 400 years alone, our lineage would include an astonishing 4,094 ancestors over 12 generations.

It begins with a vast network of 2,048 ninth great-grandparents and intricately narrows down through the generations, converging at our 2 parents. However, this is just a glimpse of our heritage, as human history extends much further back.

Every generation, from those 400 years ago to the dawn of civilization, faced its own set of trials, triumphs, and life stories.

These countless generations, their struggles, joys, and hopes, have interwoven to create our present.

So what are we anxious about really?

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Happyness funnyness

Here’s some timepass happiness jokes I came across…

Why don’t we ever give happiness a remote control? Because it’s always found within, and you can’t lose it between the couch cushions!

Why did the smartphone go to therapy? Because it thought happiness was an app, but then realized it’s always in ‘plane’ mode within us!

Why don’t emotions use GPS? Because happiness is not an external destination, but an internal journey!

Why did happiness refuse to play cards? Because it’s not about the hand you’re dealt, but how you feel inside!

Why don’t fish worry about being happy? Because they know the best joy is found in the current moment, not upstream or downstream!

Some were not that funny? Don’t worry, be happy!

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Mind it

What does the mind do?

We think that the mind thinks. But what is this thinking about?

Mostly the mind thinks about the past. Or else about the future.

If something has gone right, then the mind tries to find some flaw or fault in it.

If something has gone wrong, then the mind tries to extrapolate that into Armageddon.

The mind struggles to remain in the now, in the present.

Interestingly, all our scriptures say that the here and the now is where the mind should be. That is what leads to spiritual evolution. In the now, the mind doesn’t even have to think. It simply needs to witness.

Mind it, it’s easier said than done.

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12th fail…

…is the name of an exceptional movie that is now streaming on Disney Hotstar in India.

No spoilers, but it’s about the difficulties involved in cracking India’s toughest exam, the UPSC, and how it gets even tougher for those born not with a silver or golden spoon, but perhaps no spoon or plate at all.

It’s an incredible movie that everyone should watch. The level of motivation a viewer will get is just indescribable.

And you know the best part? The movie is entirely based on facts. Yes, a true story.

Learning about such stories only makes me think one thing. That if I’m not giving every ounce of my energy to do my best at whatever I’m doing, then I’m not just wasting my time, but also indirectly denying opportunities to hundreds or thousands or millions who could have done infinitely better should they have been in my position right now. And this is perhaps applicable to each one of us.

Here’s the link to the movie, if you’d like to know more!

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Froggy vision

In the vast expanse of what we believe we understand, there lies an unseen realm. Take the frog, for instance. Its eye, a marvel of nature, deciphers only essential cues for survival. It can spot stark contrasts, sudden light shifts, moving outlines, and dark shapes. But it cannot admire beauty like a sunset or recognize faces.

Our human eyes, intricate as they are, fall short too. We boast of comprehending everything until we ponder about bees detecting ultraviolet patterns on flowers or how owls navigate the dark. Each species possesses a tailored perception system vital for its existence. Dogs catch sounds we can’t, insects pick up scents from miles away and more.

Vedic spirituality echoes this idea—there’s a depth beyond our grasp. It humbles us, reminding us that our intellectual understanding has its limits. Just as the frog’s vision serves its survival, our perception, albeit broader, is still confined. The universe holds mysteries far beyond our discernment, urging us to embrace the boundless unknown.

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Old is sold

So a 1952 Ferrari 250 GTO sold for a staggering 51 million dollars a few weeks ago in New York.

Absolutely incredible.

I would have thought that cars are to go from point a to point b. And the latest cars have extraordinary gadgets in them, almost making them more computers than cars.

But a 70-something year old car going for 30x more than a brand new one? Bonkers indeed!

But someone still sees value in them. Why? I do not know. Maybe it’ll be part of some billionaire’s rare collection. Or else it’ll get sold for even higher some 30 years down the line, when the antique becomes antiqu-er!

But if old is sold, then old is also gold, which is what our scriptures are. If 70-year old things have this much value, imagine what value books that date back to 7000 years have! Truly the secrets to life. If only one (i.e., me) would read them, imbibe them and practise them…

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Pomo juice

There was an incredible item in the newspapers about a couple of decades ago. It read “RR creates petrol from pomegranate juice!”

RR was the initials of the chap, a supposed scientist, that achieved this incredible feat. Fuel from juice. Wow, talk about renewable energy, and that too some twenty years ago!

Well you know what say. If it’s too good to be true…

So a few weeks later, an errata was issued, which read, “RR creates petrol from pomegranate juice and petrol!”


While this is funny no doubt, from a spiritual point of view, we are all RRs only.

Whatever we think we are creating, we are simply using what already ever existed aka God. No different from “RR creates creation from creation”!

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Simplified answer

In many schools of spirituality, there are discussions about mantras and lineages.

It is said that a mantra must be given by a Guru to specific disciple in a specific manner. Absolutely true I’m sure.

It is also said to vary from Guru to Guru, from lineage to lineage.

And the ways of chanting each mantra and the various things to focus on, and of course accompanying visuals and dreams and what not.

My Guru is very clear. “Let the lineage be anything, what will you do with it?”

“Have you given up your desires and attachments?”

It’s that simple, without which he says nothing else matters.

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Anchoring bias

Came across a lovely story today.

A guy goes for an interview. There are 3 interviewers on the panel.

The first interviewer tells the candidate that he’s in the middle of the ocean on a boat and that there’s a crazy storm outside. The boat could capsize. What would he do?

Our man answers, “I’ll throw in a large anchor and steady the ship sir”.

The second and third interviewers ask similar questions, each time simply increasing the intensity of the storm. Our hero consequently simply increases the size of his anchors!

The panel ask him, “Buddy, all that’s fine, but where are you going to get such large anchors from, on such a small boat and that too in the middle of the ocean?”

The reply is swift. “I get the big anchors from the same place you get your big storms. Where you source fear, I source hope!”

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Teammateship – part 4 of 4

We finish the insightful podcast journey with Shane Battier by exploring a surprising concept: embracing chaos.

Shane argues that injecting a controlled dose of chaos into a team or system can be a powerful tool for innovation and growth. By introducing new players with diverse perspectives and experiences, we can disrupt the status quo and spark creativity.

Think about it like adding a new ingredient to a recipe. It might shake things up a bit, but it can also lead to a delicious new dish. The same goes for teams and systems. By welcoming controlled chaos, we can break through old patterns and discover new ways of thinking about and doing things.

Of course, it’s important to find the right balance. Too much chaos can be destructive, but too little can stifle progress. The key is to be open to change and embrace new ideas, even if they seem unorthodox.

So, next time we’re feeling stuck in a rut, remember Shane’s words. Embrace the chaos, shake things up, and see where it takes us. We might be surprised by what we discover!

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Teammateship – part 3 of 4

As Shane explains during his conversation with Simon, achieving anything truly remarkable requires a deep desire and unrelenting pursuit of success. He shares his experience with the Spurs, where their hunger to win ultimately surpassed that of their opponents, leading them to several championships.

But Shane also warns that this hunger can fade after victory. He emphasizes the importance of maintaining a constant drive for improvement and a relentless desire to win more. He credits the Spurs’ continued success to their unwavering focus on getting better, even after reaching the top.

So, it’s not enough to just have the talent or the skills. We need that fire in our bellies, that burning desire to push ourselves and achieve something extraordinary.

Concluding post tomorrow, on how embracing controlled chaos can lead to unexpected breakthroughs!

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