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Wake up 84 - Ouch, it hurts!

There are times when we take so much effort and precaution in doing something perfectly right. We prepare, plan and try to ensure that even in the worst case scenario our plan will work out. But finally during execution it fails – it’s not that the execution was sloppy but it’s just that something went wrong; maybe something outside our control. It might be securing an admission to a college, maybe a proposal that went wrong or maybe even something as simple as planning a journey. When you look at all the effort that went into the task you wonder, “What did I do wrong to deserve this?”

And more often than not others will not know your effort. They would only see the result and the result was that you failed – when something turns out unfavourable who cares what method you used – who cares whether you painstakingly planned or just tried to get the result through short cuts. They say that the means used to achieve a result is just as important as the result itself but you do wonder if that is true!

Take the case of Sachin Tendulkar – there have been many instances where he does the bulk of the scoring but unfortunately for him, he ends up on the losing side. And people immediately start pointing finger at him saying, “He isn’t capable of finishing the match. He should have won it for the team”. Oh come on, the guy has scored 50% of the runs; do you expect him to score all the runs? And when he doesn’t score people point fingers saying, “His time is up”. Even when he did fail do you think he never practiced before the match? How much effort must have gone in we will never know – sadly it is just the result that we see.

So for those of you who have gone through the pain of having painstakingly planned, failed and then being criticized…take heart – you aren’t alone.

Wake up 83 - Butterflies in the tummy

There is a first time to everything, there are butterflies in the stomach for everyone and almost everyone has a little fear when trying out something. Sometimes we avoid certain situations because of fear and nervousness. Even before the event we think “what if I make a fool of myself” and don’t try.

If you spend a few minutes thinking over the recent past, I’m sure you will find a few instances where you declined trying out something different. Maybe someone asked you to conduct a session, maybe someone asked you out for a game, maybe you had the chance to take part in some cultural event, maybe a social cause or maybe you were offered an opportunity to talk with the senior management and you declined.

Adam Gilchrist, who has played so many international matches and even played in World Cup finals, woke up at around 2am in the night before an IPL final since he was finding it hard to get sleep. Even Sachin Tendulkar would probably have butterflies in the stomach each time he walked out to bat for the first few runs.

Famous speakers who have delivered numerous speeches at large gatherings also have fear during their next lecture. One speaker in fact says that it is good he has the fear because it helps him prepare better. He feels that without the fear he would become complacent and stop working on improving his lecture.

My Comfort Zone - Author Unknown

I used to have a comfort zone where I knew I wouldn't fail.
The same four walls and busywork were really more like jail.
I longed so much to do the things I'd never done before,
But stayed inside my comfort zone and paced the same old floor.

I said it didn't matter that I wasn't doing much.
I said I didn't care for things like commission checks and such.
I claimed to be so busy with the things inside the zone,
But deep inside I longed for something special of my own.

I couldn't let my life go by just watching others win. I held my breath;
I stepped outside and let the change begin.
I took a step and with new strength I'd never felt before,
I kissed my comfort zone goodbye and closed and locked the door.

If you're in a comfort zone, afraid to venture out,
Remember that all winners were at one time filled with doubt.
A step or two and words of praise can make your dreams come true.
Reach for your future with a smile; success is there for you!

Wake up 82 - What's in a used paper?

I was touched today by something I heard over the weekend in a college.

If you had a piece of paper that was filled 80% with writing, would you think twice before you trashed the sheet of paper (assuming you don’t need the written content any more)? Would you even think once before trashing it?

There were a couple of blind kids sitting together in their hostel room. One boy, while going through the notes written by the other boy, started scolding him, “Hey, you are wasting a lot of paper with the way you are writing? I’ll show you how you can write more in a page.” Saying so, he pulled the other boy’s hand and made him feel the dots that he had freshly made – “You can write a lot more like this.” And then he added, “We hardly get enough laboratory books to write on; don’t waste pages.”

Blind students write in Braille – a language where they have to punch holes in the paper for forming characters; different combinations of 6 holes are used to form alphabets. The students do this writing (punching) in used laboratory books of school/college students since the paper in those books is thicker than the usual notebook paper. Here was a boy who was worried of wastage of used paper while I would probably have trashed a paper that had plenty of white-space available!

Sometimes we just don’t value what we have or what we get. We take things for granted – it’s not just paper or materials but even relationships.

Only when what we have is taken away do we realize its value.

Wake up 81 - Cant satisfy everyone!

Those of you using company transportation might have heard this conversation.
“If you are going to go straight on this road then you can drop me further down otherwise I will get down here.”
The passenger usually would check on the route the driver will be taking to try and get dropped as close to their destination as possible. And that question is usually asked with good intention because the passenger doesn’t want to trouble the driver.

You would think that drivers will be happy with that but a few days back I overheard a driver ridicule people who asked such questions. Something that is done just for his good, he makes fun at!

And I think it happens in many situations – in office, at home and also with friends. You might be trying to do something with good intention but the person affected by it would make a different story out of it. It would make you wonder why in the first place did you even have to think of taking extra steps to help that person! And sometimes we also make such stories about others based on some action they do.

So rather than worry too much over what others might feel and think it is best to follow that little voice inside which says “this is right”. Some might like your decision, some might not but will not complain, some will complain. Listen to the complaint and decide for yourself it is right or wrong.

We just can’t be in the good books of everyone all the time.

Wake up 80 - Logic Vs Emotion

Those of you who have seen Star Trek would know about the Vulcan species – Vulcans train themselves to suppress their emotions and only follow logic and reason. And I wonder which side is better – logic or going by the gut?

I read about a couple of Nobel prize winners who were part of a company that specialized in investments. This company developed a mathematical formula based on which they invested in the stock market. They reaped millions of dollars using their formula till one fine day something happened – something that according to their mathematical formula was an almost impossible situation; people lost faith in Russian bonds and in turn they lost faith in all non-US bonds, leading to plummeting of bond prices. Logically that scenario shouldn’t have happened but it did. The stock market is driven by emotion and that is one reason the markets aren’t perfect. Can’t apply mathematics to emotion!

And on the other side is hope – human nature sometimes clings to hope till the very end unable to accept defeat even though logically there seems no chance of victory. Sometimes hope is what helps us survive during times of depression but sometimes it is the same hope that makes us ignore other opportunities that come our way; we cling trying to open a locked door when there are other doors present; we are reluctant to move away from this door till the very end!

Most of us are probably driven stronger by emotion; which is what adds colour to life. So is the human way better than the Vulcan way?