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Category: motivation

Why prepping in advance is key – part 2 of 2

We know already why prepping in advance is key. We covered it yesterday. But here’s a nice example. It’s very similar to piloting a hot air balloon ride.

Really? Yes, even though most of us will rarely get the chance to pilot one, apparently these folks need proper training and a pilot’s license – very cool!

And that’s a good thing, which means all their passengers (about 20 of them in a ride) are all safe and happy.

But the way hot air balloons work, is that you have to adjust the hot air (helium etc) that is blown into the balloon in order for the balloon to either ascend or descend.

But the catch? It doesn’t happen instantaneously, unlike much of the digital world we are used to today. Click a button, and boom all done!

Nope, hot air balloons are analog machines, and so if you see a mountain coming up, you have to manage the air in the balloon well before that mountain comes close if you want to scale the peak safely. Whos doing all this? The pilot of course, thinking 10 steps ahead. That’s the importance of prepping in advance!

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Why prepping in advance is key – part 1 of 2

We are often told to read our scriptures, heed the advice of the wise, and attend satsangs regularly. After a while, we come to realize that most of the content is the same – seemingly repetitive and boring.

But you know what? In the repetition is where the magic happens!

Consider the stock markets for example. Everyone knows you need to buy low and sell high. It’s the easiest thing to do, right? Wrong. It’s the hardest thing to do, as any experienced investor will tell you, because when the market falls, your portfolio falls with it, and it paralyses one from taking action, even if that is the best time to buy more! Have a look at this often quoted statement in the market:

During these moments, confidence and clarity evaporates and is replaced by pessimism and doubt.

This exactly summarizes why we need to prepare in advance, read the scriptures in advance, practise in advance, attend satsangs in advance, build our key relationships – you guessed it – in advance. Because mental and physical strength is built during practise, not on the battlefield.

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Forrest

There’s an Aamir Khan movie coming up (Aug 2022) which is a remake of the classic Tom Hanks Hollywood movie called Forrest Gump.

That original one is on IMDB’s top 10 movies of all time, having got an incredible score of 8.8 on 10.

While most movies extol heroes with IQs of 150 and bulging biceps, here was one that highlighted a “half-wit”, as the protagonist himself would admit.

There is beauty in simplicity, and probably something we would all love to embrace. Check out this brilliant dialogue from the movie:

Jenny (Forrest’s love interest): Do you ever dream Forrest, about who you’re gonna be?

Forrest: Who I’m gonna be?

Jenny: Yeah.

Forrest: Aren’t I gonna be me?

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The art of 3s – part 3 of 3 (duh!)

What are the reasons for Curry’s ridiculous success? He himself highlights two of them.

1. Imagination, and 2. Repetition.

Imagination? What’s that? No different from Creative Visualization that my Guru strongly endorses. Don’t just dream of the future you want, but visualize it, strongly, as if it has already happened. And add smells and taste and flavour to it. It will come true, if you also follow #2, Repetition, which is the same as Practice.

As Curry notes, every dream has to be “built upon the foundation of hard work”. Is he taking it easy, now that he has achieved the pinnacle of success? Quite the opposite – because he says he practices today more than ever before in his life! And it’s those days where he doesn’t feel like going for practice, but still shows up – that make all the difference.

Is it always so good for him? Does every aim-and-shoot always result in a perfect 3 pointer? Far from it. But he focuses on his wins, and looks to better each weak shot, forgetting the associated negative emotion. He calls it “Intentionality of Amnesia” 😀

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The art of 3s – part 2 of 3 (duh!)

Steph Curry is just 34 years old, but already holds the record for the maximum 3 pointers ever scored (>3000) across all the seasons he has played. He crossed other stalwarts like Reggie Miller and Ray Allen who held these records previously.

The interview I wrote about yesterday? It was conducted by Miller himself – after Curry overtook him!

What does that teach us? That nothing is permanent, and today’s greatness can easily be outdone tomorrow.

Will it be easy? Absolutely not. In fact, for any of today’s greats to best Curry, it is estimated that they would need to score an average of 250 three-pointers – for each of the next 15 seasons! Most of them will neither achieve this average, nor even play that long. Besides, Curry’s own score count is likely to increase further during this period!

So, how does Curry’s basketball magic happen? Super lessons for us (mainly me) in tomorrow’s concluding post!

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The art of 3s – part 1 of 3 (duh!)

Three is a very important number in spirituality. Many mantras are chanted in 3s or multiples thereof. Even 108, which comprises 1 mala, is divisible by 3. Then there’s the 3 worlds – bhur, bhuvah, svah. And the 3 gunas – sattva, rajas, tamas, and so on.

But this post is not about the spiritual 3s. Rather this is about – wait for it – basketball!

Scoring a 3-pointer in basketball is not easy. Even if there are no opponents, it is hard enough – having to stand well outside the D, and aim and shoot a ball through a tiny basket (barely bigger than the ball itself) perched 10 feet high.

But there is one man called Stephen Curry who plays in the NBA, who’s made a career out of this. He’s scored 400 3-pointers in a single season – a record that no other professional player has even come close to.

I don’t follow basketball as such, but I recently watched an interview with Steph Curry titled “The Art of 3s”, and came across some brilliant takeaways that can be used in our daily lives. Continued tomorrow!

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Please select justification

What’s good and what’s not? Can a bad thing also be a good thing?

My work recently required me to send a bunch of emails. All similar emails, similar content, but with changing only the names, addressing each recipient individually.

These kinds of one-off tasks can get boring and repetitive (because they are!), but sometimes just need to be done.

Each time I would hit the “Send Email” button, a pop-up would show up: “Please select justification for sending this email outside the office domain”, and I’d have to select “Official Purpose” and that would be it. But if I had to do this for each time I had to send those 50-60 emails, it was becoming irritating.

Until, after about the 20th email, in a hurry, I forgot to change the name of the recipient, and hit send. Oops! I realized my mistake in that split second itself, and my heart jumped into my mouth. Luckily, there was a pop-up “Please select justification…”

Phew. Saved by that same pesky pop-up! Again, what’s good and what’s not? Can a bad thing also be a good thing?

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Here’s the shortcut

The shortcut is that there is only a longcut.

We all want to evolve spiritually, and evolve fast.

We want to quickly conquer the vices, never get angry, never be greedy or jealous, and never cower in fear.

But there are no quick fixes. Only preparatory fixes. The prep for a war cannot start one day before the war. It’s a continuous process, requiring years and years of prep. Many army / navy / airforce people might prep for decades (and even retire!) without so much as entering a real battlefield. Then why prep? Because that’s the only way to be ready, because we can never predict when the war will begin. Just like in our lives too – we need to be ready in advance. That’s why our scriptures focus so much on satsang and sadhana – so that when a problem strikes, we are ready!

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What matters?

Was reading some investment related material today, but realized quickly that it was excellent life advice as well.

  1. While size matters, what matters more is character. The latter helps create sustainable value.
  2. More than the present size (of the investee company), what matters is what size it will become.
  3. There is no need to worry about mere size. We do not necessarily respect a fat man more than a thin man. Sir Isaac Newton was very much smaller than a hippopotamus, but we do not on that account value him less. (Bertrand Russell)

Some good food for thought, don’t you think?

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How to work?

My Guru repeatedly says that there is no such thing as a perfect type of work.

Even the best of things, done over and over, will only bring boredom and frustration.

Our scriptures also place no emphasis on the actual work we do, but rather only focus on the state of our minds, while we are engaged in that (any) work.

How to work then? My Guru repeats this verse from chapter 18 of the Gita:

mukta-saṅgo ‘nahaṁ-vādī dhṛity-utsāha-samanvitaḥ

It means that one must be free from attachment and ego, and be endowed with dhriti and utsaha, i.e. perseverance and enthusiasm. That is the simple (but not easy) secret sauce to success.

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Bhajan shortcut

In chapter 8 of the Gita, Lord Krishna appears to offer a shortcut to reach Him.

He says, that no matter the kind of life one has led (including very sinful), if one remembers the Lord at the time of death, then such a person would definitely reach Him.

Seems easy enough! So one clever chap who had never been even remotely pious or religious or spiritual in his entire 90 year life, decided to utilise this shortcut. His plan? To make sure that on his deathbed, his near and dear ones play some Krishna bhajans, so that automatically he keeps thinking of Krishna.

On the last day/time, he is on his deathbed, and a Krishna bhajan is played. And then another. And another. Our man cannot stand it any longer, all these alien songs, having never listened to any bhajans in his life. “What is this stuff? It’s so boring. Stop it! Can’t you people just let me die in peace?”. They did stop the bhajans being played, and he promptly passed away.

The shortcut in chapter 8 is not a shortcut. It just appears so. In order to remember the Lord at the time of death, it is necessary to remember Him at every waking moment!

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How to make the right decision?

You know how we are at a crossroads so many times in our lives? We need to make one decision or another. This job or that. This country or that. This course or that. This institution or that. And so on.

Despite this, we rarely have a clear blueprint of how to go about these decisions. So critical, yet so confusing.

A senior satsangi this past weekend gave a simple yet profound 3-step technique for just this problem:

  1. Pray for the right wisdom.
  2. Ask for guidance from materially successful mentors especially if they are also on the spiritual path, such as a part of the same satsang.
  3. Understand deeply, that the grass is always greener elsewhere. Not that we shouldn’t strive for better – but just that it helps to have realistic expectations.

Decision making conquered!

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Titular

CEO, CFO, COO, CIO, Head of Legal, Head of Sales, Executive Director, Managing Director, Senior Vice President, Senior Partner, Senior Principal etc etc.

These are all lovely titles.

Everyone wants them.

But can everyone handle them?

Each of these titles comes with truckloads of stress and deadlines and deliverables and insane client demands.

If we run after the titles alone, we will experience nothing more than stress and anxiety.

However, if we focus on adding value to those around us, neither will we be stressed, nor will we need any titles. Paradoxically, all the titles in the world will come running to us!

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You have been replaced…

…is a fear each of one us have had at some point.

Whether replaced in a pivotal relationship, or replaced in your job, or replaced from a position of authority, everyone likes the status quo. And the inertia of sitting and lazing around is probably the strongest force in the world!

A new and more recent threat of replacement is one of AI – Artifical Intelligence. We already see so much of computational power around us. Many jobs that were once done by people (ATMs in place of bank tellers; Alexa instead of typists; e-booking instead of travel agents) are all done by computers.

How to survive this? What skills are irreplaceable?

Here is the list, according to a study I came across. 1) Empathy, 2) Emotional Intelligence, 3) Creativity and 4) Unstructured Problem Solving (i.e. not solving via code).

That’s the list. And you know the beauty of these? Each one of these can be developed by us, and strengthened. And forget computers replacing us, if we excel at these, even other people cannot replace us. The hard part? None of these are taught anywhere. Except maybe in satsangs and spiritual books.

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Ageless

If you are middle aged and have many years of experience, would you work for a teenager? Probably not, right? Huge career risk perhaps, and their lack of experience means you may not learn much. Besides, working for someone that much younger than you could be a bit weird.

That thinking is passé now.

No I’m not saying this frivolously.

I recently discovered that one of the hyperlocal apps that I use is a billion dollar company run by two teenagers!

Of course no one can see the future and how risky it can be. But surely in this day and age, age is no bar. Execution of an idea (perseverance, patience) trumps everything else. Good advice for spirituality as well.

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10,000 by 3

Remember Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour practice rule? You practice anything for 10,000 hours and you’ll become world class (like a concert violinist or pianist or a professional soccer or cricket player).

The breakup was that if you can practice something for 3 hours a day for 10 years, you’ll easily achieve an unparalleled level of expertise.

For many of us, even taking out 1 hour a day to do something we’d loosely classify as a “hobby” would be extremely difficult.

And if we did get the 1 hour out of an already maddening schedule, then it’d just be better to unwind with Netflix or Prime no?

One way I like to look at this, is to put in the 10,000 hours at our work. Our office job. The day job. Whatever it may be. And guess what, we work 9 hours a day anyway. So that’s 3 times more than the 3 hours per day needed for mastery in 10 years. Which means we could be masters at our work if we spend just 3.3 years!

Instead of spending time by the water cooler, gossiping and talking politics and what not, why not just use every single opportunity to learn, spend the 9 hours in the most efficient manner possible, and become the best-of-the-best in your line of work, whatever it might be? 😄

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Calcoolus

That title is enough to give me goosebumps. Reminders of several nightmares. What a mess those few years at school were. I couldn’t help but wonder why this topic was ever even included.

But in the real world, Calculus is what has made much progress possible. Without going into the examples (and even worse, the equations!), there is apparently little we could have achieved without Integration and Differentiation.

Despite my struggling to solve Calculus in school and college, it’s got amazing lessons for real life problems.

What is differentiation if it’s not about breaking complex problems, repeatedly, into smaller and smaller problems, until the smallest problem is solved. Integration is the reverse. Take those solved small problems, and keep building up from there.

What can we learn from this? That while we look for big solutions to our life problems, it’s the small good habits that really change our life. Fix the small (differentiation), and then aggregate those fixes to the large (integration).

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Emoshunned – part 4 of 4

Why the jealousy versus envy example? Because as humans, we are naturally wired to compare.

Naming the emotion here helps. Because we get to identify the inflection point. If we are envious about something someone else has, we can consciously choose what we want to do with that comparison. As someone nicely summarized – if we compare against others, we become bitter. But if we compare against ourselves, we become better!

Brene dropped this cool line on the podcast – “To compare, is human, but to let go is divine.”

She also talks of the 4 Bs. Biology, Biography, Behaviour and Backstory. These help in further dissecting one’s emotions.

Biology is what we naturally have a tendency for. Biography is how we were raised (in a very strict upbringing versus easy going, or rich versus poor). Behaviour refers to my reactions today – do I just control my anger, or do I turn red and punch a wall, or worse. Backstory – this really helps find an answer, such as if someone tears up, is that anger? Grief? Sadness? Disappointment?

A backstory helps us do better. For instance, if we have an interview lined up, it is but natural to have a few butterflies in the tummy. For some, this can even lead to anxiety. But instead of feeling desperate for the job and just making things worse, it would help to have backstory that emphasizes how it would be such an exciting challenge to speak with 4 interviewers and clinch the job.

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Emoshunned – part 3 of 4

We may use disappointed and sad interchangeably. But are they both the same?

Apparently not. If there is a lot of expectation behind the negative emotion, then that would classify as disappointment. We really expected something to do very well, and that not taking place would leave us disappointed, not sad.

Why is this important? Because if you don’t know the illness, how would you know what medicine to take?

If you are sad, then maybe watching a comedy movie might make you feel light again. But if you are disappointed, it might be better to come to terms with our lofty expectations in the first place.

Another simple example is the difference between jealousy and envy. Honestly, I always thought the two were the same!

Apparently envy is wanting what the other person has. Like someone bought a brand new car, and now I envy them. And jealousy? That is when I already have something, but fear losing it to someone else. Like I have a car, but I’m jealous of my neighbour who I believe can easily buy two such cars if he wanted to. This would kill my perceived status in the way I view society.

We are weird, I know, but it is what it is! Closure tomorrow…

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White hair

Everyone detests white hair right?

It’s the surest sign of aging, and of course no one wants to grow old.

I got my first white hair pretty early on, and it’s not like we have a choice in this anyway.

But there’s youngsters on social media who actually color their hair white. Apparently it is a fad, a new style trend. It’s odd seeing these people, such young faces coupled with old-people hair.

An ex-boss of mine once told me that white hair is a good thing. Why? Because in business settings, the other person tends to take you more seriously. Would you believe a 50 year old CEO or a 20 year old one? No matter what their actual capabilities are, the mind would naturally gravitate towards the one with white hair.

Lastly, whenever my Guru used to have some outstanding insights on anything, and would see the stunned look on my face, he would casually remark, “the hair on my head has turned white for a reason…”

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