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Wake up 79 - Aim high, sky high

There are times when you see a person who is not disturbed my most events that seem to affect others; in fact the person seems so carefree that you wonder if he/she has any worries at all!

The scriptures say that when you have a higher purpose in life the trivial matters will fall apart; the higher the purpose the less disturbed you are of small hiccups. There was a speech I heard delivered by a senior person who talked of being happy but never satisfied – be happy with all that you get, with all that you don’t get and with all the results that come your way. But don’t be satisfied because once you are then you won’t progress further. And some people may contradict that by saying, ‘hey, aren’t we supposed to get rid of desires – desires are the root cause of everything’. But one of the ways to eliminate desires is by raising the bar of what you strive for – and as you move towards that, the petty desires will drop off.

He took an interesting example of Usain Bolt – the lightning fast athlete on the track who last year had broken the World record on the track; and here he was a year later to break his own record – he wasn’t satisfied; that’s why he was still running and breaking records!

The same is the case for fears – when confronted by bigger fears we forget the smaller ones and feel we can handle them easily!

Try it out – set yourself an ambitious goal and minor setbacks or unfavourable results will not bother you. In fact even the minor victories will not excite you because you will be thinking of the bigger goal.

Wake up 78 - Lead by example

It makes for an interesting case when you see parents push their children into numerous activities hoping that their child will excel. A parent recently commented, “See that girl, how well she sings. Why don’t you also sing like that?” And then the parent complained how her child never likes to attend extra classes. “She says that in school they sit in class so why to sit in class in holidays also”. I wondered whether the mother herself had ever enjoyed going to classes on weekends or if she ever liked going for music classes! Pity that sometimes we try to push our dreams on others without realizing that it is their life and not ours.

How often have you seen a team lead tell his junior in an appraisal, “You should be more innovative and creative. You should create tools for the project. You should document what you learn”. The junior will think, ‘Oh come on, have you done any of that yourself!’ I think one of the most depressing advices is when a person tells do this and do that when they themselves have never attempted to do anything of the sort. Sure, in every case it may not be possible – a construction worker would aspire for her kid to get a white collar job. She may never have had the chance to do that and so would want try to provide the best circumstances for her child to pursue a better life. But when it comes to the job, the senior also has gone through the stages that the junior passes through and if the senior has never demonstrated such traits why would the junior ever heed to the advice.

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing”, Albert Schweitzer – Nobel Peace prize winner.

Wake up 77 - So easy to comment upon

When it comes to cricket in India, there is fame and criticism that comes along. People comment on cricketers like teachers would chide a student. Criticism to some extent due to the passion for the game is fine, but a lot of times people go overboard. A player like Dravid, who was rated as top class, is rubbished by people as not capable of playing cricket. And such comments come from people who have rarely played any competitive sport. Even when playing a local tournament that hardly anyone is watching, players feel jittery on the field in critical moments of the game. Just imagine the burden on the player when millions of eyes are watching every single move they make!

Oh how easy it is to talk. When someone hears of a colleague who suffered losses in the stock market they would pounce on him and say “Ah, you should have limited your losses by selling when the price fell 10% itself. You shouldn’t have waited”. So easy to be wise after the event but it is only the actual player who lives the situation.

Only someone who has experienced the anxiety of going short on a stock (‘going short’ means you gain money if the stock price declines), watching every bit of news till the next day, watching how markets around the world are performing, waiting anxiously for the market to open…only someone who has gone through that really knows how it feels to play on the stock market. And the ones who talk will do so on both sides – if the result isn’t favourable they would preach saying “you should have done this and that”; if the result comes favourable then they would rubbish the achievement.

There was this person I was chatting with who would always talk as if celebrities have done nothing and have catapulted to fame by luck alone. Maybe it is a feeling of dejection that makes him speak so; a feeling that perhaps he never tried things that he liked doing and now seeing others in a different level makes him console himself by saying “oh, that’s not a big deal”.

If you hear people make you feel little by saying such things in your face (or behind your back), don’t worry – it’s just that they haven’t tasted what you have tasted!

Wake up 76 - Believe (with a dose of realism)

We did touch on a couple of editions about worst case scenarios. And if found in one of those scenarios we would say that you have to be optimistic. It is probably just the belief that you will survive that keeps you going.

I read about an American war hero who survived the Vietnam war – on a light hearted note they say he was the first one in and the last one out from that war. He returned bruised and battered physically – dislocated shoulder, broken back and his leg crippled in torture. He hung in there believing he would survive.

His plane was shot down while conducting an air-raid over Vietnam; he broke his back after ejecting out of his plane and was then beaten by villagers before being taken as a prisoner of war (POW). Seven years he was held a prisoner; he was tortured and kept in solitary confinement for a few years as well. And what did he do – he developed a code of communication within prison to keep up morale. And he said that it was the optimists who didn’t survive.

"Oh, they were the ones who said, 'We're going to be out by Christmas.' And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they'd say, 'We're going to be out by Easter.' And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart."

James Stockdale knew that it would be an arduous and long time in captivity. He stayed the realist - he believed like an optimist that he would survive but he didn't go overboard in thinking that the ordeal would end immediately.

"I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life".

“You block your dream when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith” - Mary Manin

Wake up 75 - Precious tears...

We have this ingrained notion in our minds that tears mean weakness. Aren’t tears just another form of expressing emotion?

“Tears are words the heart can't express”

Sometimes we cry in laughter but I’m talking of tears that arise due to emotional pain - when there is deep hurting inside and the eyes get watery. Some people go to a private place to let the tears trickle, some let it trickle in public while others try hard to stop it!

“Tears are the safety valve of the heart when too much pressure is laid on it”, Albert Smith.

Research tells us that it is good to pour open your heart. When in intense pain and grief, crying tends to relieve the pent up depression. And if you have noticed, a person generally looks brighter after they have cried with a sparkle in their eyes! Tears are good for your eyes as well since it helps in lubrication and prevents dryness. Alexander Fleming discovered that a drop of tear destroyed many microbes in a Petri dish.

It doesn’t mean that you start crying regularly (that could be a sign of weakness). But if you ever feel pain building up within that you are unable to relieve, then tears might just be the right medicine for you! And hey, tears aren’t just for girls – guys also use it! Even celebrities who you think have the world at their feet cry when unable to control their emotions. Federer couldn’t control his tears when he lost a match and recently I came across a celebrity who said he would cry when hurt – with the money and family backing he had you would think tears don’t form a part of his life. So hey, no need to feel bad about it. And it might not be a good idea to hold back tears – better to let the dam burst.

“Perhaps our eyes need to be washed by our tears once in a while, so that we can see Life with a clearer view again”, Alex Tan.

We can always try to avoid getting into a state of tears by becoming stronger mentally, by being prepared to face the worst etc. But if drops well up in your eyes then you will be better off releasing them!