Giving up optimism.. but not faith

I am coming back to my blog after more than an year. Apologies for the long pause in my writing (close to abandoning). There are reasons.

First, I couldn’t take the (self-imposed) pressure of writing consistently. Writing comes to me in bursts and if I am in front of the computer, I write. I rarely plan my writing. But consistency demands planning and discipline. The transition from a blogger-for-fun to serious blogging was too much for me and I failed.

Second, I lose the point. I see things around and suddenly come up with a topic for a post. I may be driving at the time – so I voice record points or jot it down. A day later, when I revisit the points, they either make no sense or I don’t care about it as much. The magic is gone.

Third, blogging came 4th on my list. Everyday I wake up and look up my to-do list, I always find blogging as my 4th. High on interest and priority but not enough to get to it before the end of the day. And guess what, next day I wake up, blogging is still #4. Some other thing trumps this.

Reason # 3.5 : I wanted to move my blog from blogger to my own domain. Its not a trivial task because I had tons of posts (of over 5 years) that I have to migrate. I can’t simply copy them over because search engines penalize duplicate content.. so, long story short, I had to learn “301 redirection” and that’s a lot of effort for a technology-challenged person like me.

So I lost it – seriously!. I just couldn’t handle all this and gave up. I didn’t choose to be spontaneous and not worry about consistency and just write whenever I can. I just chose not to blog at all.

This is when I understood first hand the true meaning of Stockdale Paradox. I read it in the book “Good to Great” and loved it but suddenly it dawned on me that I am acting like the optimists. Vice Admiral Stockdale was a prisoner of war at Vietnam. He was tortured for 7 years but came out stronger than ever. When asked who didn’t make it out of Vietnam, he replied : the optimists!

Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. 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.”

I was putting blogging on an unnecessary timetable. And when I missed it the fourth and fifth time, I just gave up. Now, I know better. I didn’t accept my reality earlier. I was taking it too seriously. I didn’t say “Its ok not to be consistent”.

Stockdale goes on to say that:

“..You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

And like the “red pill” reality of Neo, my reality is that blogging is always my #4 right now. And at that level of priority, it should be fun than work. The only way its going to happen is if I stay in my “good enough” zone. If I cross it, I will never get things done and the stress of it kills me.

I have been looking for a reason to get back to my “good enough” zone of blogging. Today, I got that reason. You’ll see it in my next post..

For now I am back. I finally moved my blog to my own domain few weeks ago. I will be erratic in my posts, but I will blog. I am sure no one has missed my writing, neither did I. But the pressure is off.. and once I give up optimism, I am free.. and it feels good..

PS: If you want to learn more about Stockdale Paradox here are bunch of links.
Vice Admiral James Stockdale – The Man
– Jim Collins’ audio on Stockdale paradox (click on the 4th link)
– Good enough theory courtesy – Dave Vollmer

Unfinished Business

Death is always a humbling event. Earlier in the week when I witnessed one, it was weird. I had seen him just a few weeks ago – with his usual smile and sense of humor. He was walking around and talking to us. And now here he was – sleeping. It was very weird. The face looked calm and serene. He looked as though he was going to open his eyes any minute and wake up from his sleep. As time passed, the feeling started to sink in. The body is there, but he wasn’t. Who was he? Where is he now? What has happened to his intelligence, his curiosity, his anger, his laughter? where is all that? The body is still here. Where is he?

Soul – the consciousness that powers life is not very hard to understand once we see death. Or for that matter, once we start aging. Even if you don’t believe in “soul”, I am sure we all agree that there is a life force which powers our lives like electricity powers a gadget. The question is, how is our identity (our ego) connected to this life force? Is it the life force itself or is it something activated by the life force? Each culture has its own theory but everyone accepts one thing – that we are not the body. Body is just a medium. It is just a context in which experience occurs.

Some time after seeing the body lying there without any movement, this idea that I am not the body started hitting me hard. I looked at my own hand and felt something alien about it. I felt million cells moving within my body – each having its own mind, coming to life, growing, multiplying and dying; constantly. I have no control on this. I wanted to scream “Stop!”. But they wouldn’t. The buzz of activity only grew louder and louder until my inner voice was lost in it.

How do I know I am even alive? When I breathe, I am aware of the time and space in which I am breathing. I am aware of the body that is breathing. I am aware of the thought that I am breathing. Whoever I am, my life is defined by the time, space, body and thoughts in which I am breathing (or my heart is beating). Without this I am lost. I don’t know how else I can describe life to myself if I didn’t have this context of time, space, body and mind.

I looked around. There were people crying loud. Some shed silent tears. Who are these people? They are not their bodies. I see multiple souls (life forces) trapped inside their bodies – each of them are ticking time bombs – bundle of cells growing, multiplying, dying again and again until it all stops one day. And then there will be silence.

Until that day, I breathe, fueling my body; I think, fueling my mind; I am aware, fueling my soul. I am intensely aware that I am in touch with my body and mind but cannot experience someone else’s body and mind. Why can’t I live two lives at the same time? I can only imagine how it will be to be someone else. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t – even for a second – be someone else; feel what they are feeling; experience their body. I am all alone in this world. I can’t trade my life with any one else. I can only witness them living their lives. Even with my mother or brother or wife or children. I am utterly lonely. And so are they.

So what exactly is my relationship with them? What is love, friendship, or kinship? Just like the time and space, they too are nothing but a context. When I look at my wife and she looks at me, its just two souls sharing the same context. In her life at the same time and space, I was there. Relationship between us strengthens the context through emotions. When I see her, I create a feeling of love inside me. Only I can experience it. She can’t. Inside her, there is a similar (not the same) emotion which is accessible only to her.

Are we trapped inside our bodies and minds? Yes. We can’t see it because this trap defines our identity. Our ego is welded to the time, space, body, mind and relationships. If I remove this context, existence has no meaning.

So what survives death? Who are we really? Are we the soul? What happens once life force leaves the body? Does soul have its own identity/ego? Is there a purpose to our lives?

I don’t know the answer. Its hard to rationalize using the devices available to us within our current context. But in my opinion, I don’t think there is a purpose. What does purpose mean to the dead body in front of me? But its good to think that there is a purpose because our ego (identity) feels better that way. A better question is, what happens to the ego after death?. I think ego is a construct of the context. It is bound to it. When the context ends when we die, ego dies too and our life, as we know it, continues to remain an unfinished business.

How to lose 10 customers within 1 hr

Restaurants epitomize service businesses. And service businesses are high touch. You touch customers with what you offer and its personal. That’s why when someone opens a new restaurant and that too in a low traffic area, you need to pay more attention to customer satisfaction. But our recent experience at a new restaurant showed that entrepreneurs can be missing the big picture pretty badly. A new restaurant, not a high traffic area, not a specialty restaurant (they serve practically any type of cuisine), a house’s backyard converted into a open space (this was done reasonably well), chef doesn’t know what he is talking about, many menu items are not available, some menu items do not have the ingredients mentioned (apparently it was a typo in the menu), food below average. The only thing above average was the price.

The chef comes to us asking for our feedback and we were wondering whether to sugar coat it or be honest. We decided to be honest and told him that mocktail was pretty bad (mixing coriander with basil will kill basil – and it had the makings of a wheatgrass shot), main course was pretty bad – too bland, too creamy, too overcooked etc., Anyone with half an ounce of brain would know that this was a screw up – we weren’t going to come back. We may actually be dissuading 10 others to avoid this place.

What would you, as a restaurant owner, do at this point?

Its actually easy to convert this bad situation into a good one (or at least neutralize it). Offer apologies, free dinner next time? Well, the owner wasn’t around at all. The chef obviously doesn’t know what to do (pretty junior guy). He goes ahead and charges us even for the bread basket that we thought was on the house.

We left.

PS: It is very stressful to decide on a tip when you’ve have unpleasant experience. We left a tip but I thought we were under emotional blackmail. Hated the person who started this restaurant even more for this.

Gods must be crazy

My accusation: Gods must be crazy


If God existed, he would not let so many wrong things happening today. To begin with, I’d be rich and rolling in some serious dough 😉 But taking a bit of macro view, there are some seriously wrong things going on everyday around us. Talk about corruption, injustice, misuse of power, money stashing and murders. There is no recession in sight for those involved in these not-exactly-good-repute fields. But are we skeptical about God or his powers? On the other contrary, we throng to temples in even bigger numbers. Its interesting to note that those who are amassing money in any color other than white or those who bump people off as a profession are turning even bigger believers of God. They are chopper landing at the most prestigious (and the richest) temples and donate loads of money and gold and announce even bigger charity as part of their cleanse-your-soul-with-money effort.

God must certainly be happy with how things are working out for him because the bullies are getting bullier, the scamsters are getting even more scammier, and the murderers are on overtime. The temple vaults with overflowing coffers put swiss bank to shame.

A decade ago I’d have thought that the idea of offering (bribing) Gods for petty things like getting good grades, or a promotion or winning lottery would be seen as suspending reality. But I am wrong. We are turning into religious zealots. Consider this – countries are at war over religious beliefs, someone is burning bible while somebody else is burning Quran. People are thronging temples to ask God to bless them on everything from wealth, love, power – nothing is trivial.

Why did we degenerate?

Just last week 100+ devotees were killed in a stampede at one of the popular temple destination in India. Why? because the temple authorities didn’t give a damn about security. I don’t think this will get fixed because the finger pointing game (in India) is a mastered art. The “buck stops here” doesn’t work because you’d first have to find the buck. Good luck! So, 100 devotees returning fresh from the temple after witnessing one of the holiest moment died in a ridiculous stampede. This is not the first – there have been scores of such incidents in India and outside as well.

The irony is I can understand if I die on my way back from murdering someone but how can I die when I am returning just after getting a blessing? Worse, a corrupt person cuts a underhand deal, comes back in a plush european car, stashes his ill-gotten money, sleeps in a bungalow, gets into his chopper next day, goes to the temple, jumps the line, gets special treatment, donates couple of millions and goes back to his (now) well deserving lifestyle. And these 100 people who were crushed alive were walking back bare foot in the dark through a narrow mud path to go back to their modest lives.

Hinduism handles this irony quite well. Its called karma which gets accumulated like casino chips over multiple lifetimes. So, you got a raw deal in this life? guess your bad karma chips from the previous life is catching up with you. This is a clever way of explaining our mistakes away. Its not the mistake of the temple authorities, its not the mistake of the police department or even the government to ensure safety of the devotees walking back in the middle of the night with no light to guide them. Its actually the bad karma of those 100 guys and God chose to stick it up to them exactly when they are returning back from the pilgrimage.

Some sense of humor God has! 

God’s rebuttal: You must be out of your mind!

This is God. I guess I should take affront to the above arguments. I never asked you to do stupid things like pilgrimage or donate money or come to me to wash your sins. I never even guaranteed that your Karma is encashable. When I put you on the miserable earth I didn’t commit that you’d get your fair share of luck. You don’t expect fairness in a casino but that didn’t stop you from gambling. You know that house always wins. That’s what life is. If you want to gamble, be my guest but if you lose don’t come running to me. There are morons on earth and there are good guys too but don’t expect me to butt in and help you out. BTW you have been a moron many times. I didn’t bump you off then. Why do you complain now?. If some corrupt idiot comes and donates money I don’t have a say in it. Neither did I ask him to.

You come to me because you want to.
Because you are guilty, because you want to confess, because you want to amend, because you feel grateful, because you feel joy.

Do you see that the operating word above is “you”. Its not me. I don’t get anything out of it. I’d rather be left out of this scheme. But you drag me. You want me to interfere and “set things right” when things don’t go right for you but you want me to stay away when they go right for you. If you are wronged, only you are wronged. Do you know how many others plead on the same day to not interfere? And BT, on the days you felt that everything is perfect, there are others who cry to me to fix it. What should I fix and what should I not?

You have no idea how complex my job is. Its thankless. You give me credit on some days and accuse me on other according to your convenience. You use me as your cause to push your own selfish agenda. I created life that’s equal to everyone. Equally fair and equally unfair. You are dealt cards and you play your game as best as you can. That’s it. The cards that’s handed to you is not in your control but how you play your game is in your control. Don’t fret on the cards. Focus on your game.

Feel free to use me. I am an equal opportunity guy. Just don’t expect me to fix it all for you. You have to do it for yourself.

Peace out!

Brainy resolutions – How to keep your new year resolutions!

I like new year resolutions. Its an once-a-year chance to wipe off all the baggage and start fresh. But most of us struggle to keep them. A friend said “My last year resolutions look shiny and new, I hardly used them!”.

Most resolutions relate to health, wealth and family. The common theme being happiness. We yearn to be happy. Somehow being happy is a lot work (surprisingly, that’s not how things were as children).

So, coming to new year resolutions, what happens to them? Why do we have problems keeping them?

There are tons of online tips to help keep them, but we are going to look at what happens to us internally that helps keep it or break it. A resolution is related to a personal habit/behavior – something you don’t have today but have the desire for. Since habits form in our brain, an understanding of how we are wired helps in knowing how to create and maintain habits.

Our brain controls our physical and mental activities. Particularly important to our discussion are two brain subsystems that control our behavior.

a) Prefrontal cortex that controls cognition and discrimination and
b) Limbic system (which includes hypothalamus, amygdala and hippocampus) that controls our emotional, reflexive and memory response.

In simpler terms, the former is the rational or thinking brain and the latter the emotional or reflexive brain. The important thing to remember is they are located in separate parts of the brain. Malfunction in one may not affect the other. They act almost independently while co-ordinating with each other for complex functions.

Why do we need to know this? You do, bear with me.

There is another fact you need to know about these two parts of the brain. The emotional brain is wired to respond reflexively. Your instincts are part of this brain. Apart from controlling your heart beat, temperature and things that happen automatically without your active knowledge, this brain is the seat of pleasure & pain, emotions, and memory. It also controls an important thing required to keep your resolution – motivation (to keep your resolution) and another thing that breaks your resolution – temptation.

In contrast, the rational thinking brain controls decision making, problem solving, social behavior, judgment, control etc., When you face a dilemma between two choices, this part of the brain helps you decide the right answer. It is also the source of an important thing required to keep your resolution – willpower (to stick to your resolution)

So, when you face a dilemma that threatens a resolution like exercise (willpower) or chocolate cake (temptation), these two separate parts of the brain are internally in a tug of war. Who wins will decide whether you keep your resolution or not.

How do you know who will win this tug-of-war?

It depends..

Each of us is wired differently. if you are wired stronger emotionally, your temptations usually wins. And for the lucky few who are cognitively stronger they have the power to resist.

But an interesting scenario is what if both parts are equally balanced? who will win?

In this case it depends on your state of mind. In today’s complex world (compared to neanderthals) our brain faces a lot of cognitive demand. Each waking moment, we deal with complex issues and tasks that require the use of the rational, thinking brain. So, when the issue of exercise vs. chocolate cake comes up and if your rational brain is free, then usually it wins but if it is tired or busy with some other task, your emotional brain wins.

Baba Shiv, a Stanford professor, illustrates this fact in his interesting research. In an experiment, he called two groups of students and asked the first group to remember a 2 digit number and the second group to remember a 7 digit number. when they were asked to walk down the hall, they were presented with two snack options – a chocolate cake or a fruit salad. The group with 7 digit number were twice as likely to choose the chocolate cake as students given two digit numbers. The reason is that the extra 5 digits occupied their rational brain weakening willpower and making them vulnerable to resist the temptation (stemming from the emotional brain). (read more on this study here)

The tug of war is clearly won by the emotional brain.

Before we go back to resolutions, let’s recap what we have covered so far. We now know that there is a tug of war between willpower and temptation going on in two separate parts of the brain. We also know that the rational brain in more likely to be overloaded or tired given our stressful, complex lifestyle and that makes us vulnerable to temptations controlled by our emotional brain.

So the final question – is this a lost cause? is there no way to win over the emotional brain?

Yes you can.

In the above discussion, the emotional brain was unfairly projected as evil that brings us down on our knees and forsake our resolutions. This is far from the truth. Emotional brain also controls motivation. Looked from a positive sense, it is a strong force that motivates us to do superhuman feats. We conquer mountains because of the emotional brain. In fact, in these cases, our rational brain is the dampener, the skeptic and the nay-sayer.

But we don’t see emotions as our strength when dealing with resolutions for 2 reasons:

1) Resolutions are new habits. They are still not part of your memory & emotional system. There is a time period when your resolution is a “learned behavior” relying heavily on the willpower of your rational (cognitive) brain. Until it becomes part of your memory, emotional brain can’t give you enough motivational help.

2) Until your resolution becomes part of your memory (becoming a habit), it could be a threat because, commonly, your resolutions replace an existing (undesirable) habit which is already a part of your emotional system. Your emotional brain’s initial response will be to fight. But once you crossed the hurdle and make your resolution a habit, the emotional brain will support it.

So if you hope to keep your resolution purely on your will power and rationality, you will fail. You need to counter your emotional brain’s initial resistance and convert the temptation to motivation (both these forces come from the same limbic system part of your brain). Here’s how you can do it.

– Your resolution must have a strong emotional hook so that emotional brain supports (and not fight) your resolution.
– This could be a positive hook like visualizing the happy end state if you stick with the resolution (a picture of yourself 10 lbs leaner, a picture of the vacation place)
– This could also be a negative emotional hook like committing yourself financially or publicly. If you commit publicly that you will run a marathon, you are likely to stick to it to avoid loss of face. If you sign-up for a class, you are likely to stick to it to avoid losing the money.
– Emotional brain also builds memory based on constant feedback – so reinforce small things you do, think or say at every step, walk through your progress frequently. Ritualize your resolution as part of your daily routine.

The above tips not only neutralizes the initial resistance of emotional brain but also creates habits faster. Once your resolution becomes a habit, the emotional brain becomes a motivator. And when the emotional brain becomes your motivator, there’s no stopping you!

Here’s wishing you a great year and luck on your resolutions!

How to kill bad days!

It doesn’t bore well to start the new year with a post on bad days. But bad days are as much a part of us as good days.

Why do bad days exist?
The fact is.. “bad days” don’t exist. They exist only for us. Take any bad day and you’ll find someone, somewhere having a great time that day. A day is always neutral. Its never bad or good. Its our experience and our judgment that we label them as bad or good.

Parrot Times headlines (on the day of Titanic disaster): “Titanic Sunk. No parrots lost!”

So, a bad day is pretty much in the eye of the beholder.
The question (correctly) should be: Why am I having a bad day?
Well, this shifts the focus from the day to you. Why is the day bad for you?. There are many reasons but we’ll look into some reasons that turn the day against you! Bad day needs a trigger – an external stimuli that your brain doesn’t like. It could be something nasty that someone said or did . It could be your own mental voice that’s stressed about some unpleasant work or experience. But without this trigger, no day is bad or good. On good days, its a compliment or something enjoyable you did that triggers it.

Many times, the trigger is weak enough to fade away. Obviously, each day, you experience a bunch of both pleasant and unpleasant experiences. Its the intensity of one kind of experience that turns the entire day into a bad or good one. Your reaction to things happening to you and your interpretation of them as good or bad is what creates it.

Obviously, when you start thinking how bad your day has begun, you become self-conscious about everything you do. You brain goes into a super-defensive mode. You lose fluidity – the capacity to go with the flow of the day. You become conscious of everything you do. This not only makes you vulnerable to more bad experiences (actually creating them) but also adds a lot of mental stress. Now you are officially in a bad-day spiral. Every incremental experience (even good ones) start adding to the stress and it gets compounded.

Is there a way to kill bad days?
Yes there is. Since it is your self-made creation, you also have the power to kill it. Its hard, I know but if you deal with it, you can nip it. Here are 4 R’s (I made them up ;-)) that you can use to get your mojo back!

  • Reflect 
  • Reach out 
  • Redeem
  • Rebound

You don’t have to do all of them. Sometimes just reflection might get you out of that spiral and some other times you might have to try couple of them. But feel free to use what suits you best.

Reflect: If you have no one you can talk to or if you are not comfortable opening up to someone, reflecting on the bad day and how it is impacting you can help you become more objective. Just the self-awareness you create puts the brakes on the negativity that your mind generates. In psychology it is also called “counter-factual” thinking. The following example cited by Prof. Richard Wiseman explains this:

.. Imagine being chosen to represent your country in the Olympic games. You compete in the
games, do very well, and win a bronze medal. How happy do you think that would feel? Most of us
would, I suspect, be overjoyed and proud of our achievement. Now imagine turning the clock back
and competing at the same Olympic games a second time. This time you do even better and win a silver medal. How happy do you think you would feel now? Most of us think that we would feel happier after winning the silver medal than the bronze. This is not surprising. After all, the medals are a reflection of our performance, and the silver medal indicates a better performance than a bronze medal. 

But research suggests that athletes who win bronze medals are actually happier than those who win silver medals. And the reason for this has to do with the way in which the athletes think about their performance. The silver medalists focus on the notion that if they had performed slightly better, then they would have perhaps won a gold medal. In contrast, the bronze medalists focus on the thought that if they had performed slightly worse, then they wouldn’t have won anything at all.

Reachout: Sometimes reflection is hard. In those cases reaching out to someone you trust and talking it out helps put things in perspective. You start to see that this may not be as bad you thought. Your friend/family can help you to expand the context and see how small this issue actually is.

Redeem: Use this strategy if you think you can go back and undo what caused the bad day. Sometimes it might be easy to go back and fix it, say sorry, ask for explanation, or make it right – whatever it takes to redeem yourself out of the situation. This not only kills the bad day but actually turns it into a good day!

It may not be possible to go back and fix it at all times, but most times it is. I am surprised how many times it is actually possible but we don’t consider this as an option. We may feel shy, closed, guilty or our ego may block us from considering this. In these cases, ask yourself “what’s the worst that can happen if I go back and fix it?” and the answer, surprisingly, will always be “nothing”. When you can turn a bad day into a good day, why lose that opportunity?

Rebound: Finally, go do something positive, fun and put the confidence back in you. This is like pressing the “reset” button to start fresh. To get into this mindset, you have to divert your energy to something you really enjoy doing and gives you the confidence to get over your bad-day feeling. There’s always a new day.

With one of more of the 4 R’s above, you can effectively handle your bad days and even turn them into good days. Like bad days, good days are also a spiral. Once you are in it, the momentum creates more good experiences and you will ride the wave.

Go make every day in 2011 a good day!

Photo: Amazingly talented budding artist Sonia
Article source: Prof. Richard Wiseman
Topic inspiration: A dear friend!

The dark underbelly of Diwali

The season of lights and cheers is always the favorite in India. This is one festival where everyone has a good time.

Not to be a party pooper, but Diwali also has a dark underbelly. The whole fireworks industry in India is concentrated in a tiny town called Sivakasi in Tamilnadu. The working condition of the folks who make the fire crackers is pitiable. Child labor is rampant.

Every government wants to abolish child labor. But here is a living example of shame and we happily promote it.

The 2nd ugly fact is the number of accidents adults and kids have during Diwali. This year more than 100 kids in Bangalore either lost their eyes or were badly blinded. I expect this to run into maybe 1000s across India.

No one stops to consider the social or (long term) economic cost of this. 1000 kids – who can’t do things because they lost their eyes and now have to depend on others for survival.

Whose fault is this?

You may say that they should have been careful. But this is when it gets even more ugly. Most accidents happened to children who were just passers by when a cracker or a rocket from nowhere and hit them in the face.

Some one makes a crude rocket. Someone lights it in unsafe manner and a kid loses her eyes. I can’t begin to imagine how the family must be feeling.

But all this gets buried in the horrendous apathy. We are numb to it. And when the event happens to be the most popular across the country and there’s a lot of commercial interest involved, the news gets buried inside and we move on.

Is there a solution? Yes. And we know it. But its not urgent for us, and nobody is screaming for it. So, its yet another happy Diwali for us.

What was my contribution? I am ashamed to say that like some of you, I too enjoyed the fireworks.

Pushing the limits

It has been quite joyful to learn from my 7 yr old the past couple of days. As with autistic children, he outsmarts us in learning complex things but basic things can be quite challenging for him. Such is the case with swimming. He loves water but its been a challenge to get a trainer to teach him. So, I always accompany him in the water and hold him. He is very careful (more careful than me!) but every time he is in the water, he uses me for his support. I find it difficult to let him alone too.

The past couple of days, I tried something different. I let him on his own in the pool and watched him (obviously I am standing outside the pool ready to jump in if required).

What I learned from the experience is quite amazing.

Initially he’d cling to the pool fence all the time. After few minutes, he started to take a dip and come back up and hold the fence. He did that for some time and slowly he started to venture a bit more. He’d let go of the fence, take a dip, come back up and find himself a feet away in the water and started kicking his legs to get to the fence. As I watched, I saw him learn to swim effortlessly on his own. After 30 minutes, he started learning to control his breathing to stay more time in the water. He kept pushing his limits on his own. No one was teaching him.

What can we learn from this?

– If we enjoy doing something, we push our limits voluntarily. Its feels like fun.
– Incrementally pushing limits step by step is a great way to explore and learn quickly. Before you realize, you’d have made a giant leap!
– Being on our own and exploring at our own pace has its own joy instead of some one trying to push you all the time. I have seen trainers pushing kids when teaching them to swim. Sometimes it works out but other times kids go back terrified. And here is Tanav, kicking and paddling on his own and having great fun!

So is life.

We think that we push our limits only under pressure. But to the contrary we push our limits more when we enjoy doing something.

What do you think?


Our world view is shaped by what we believe is the truth.

Obviously, by the time truth reaches our minds it goes through multiple cultural, social and experiential filters.

Most often, what we consider are self evident is distorted.

That’s why diverse and rich experience helps. It adds flavors to a simple stereotype. The more you experience the more you realize that what you thought were neat pigeon holes are actually a maze.

If there are many sources for your truth, chances are that it is less distorted. It is not monochromatic.

The dangerous one is if you get your truth from only one source. Your source controls what is true. It is impossible to verify it.

There is another type that is even more dangerous. That is when “you” are the only source for your truth. It is often your “prejudice” disguised as truth. And it is hard for you to tell the difference.

Watch out for it.


Belief is a powerful force and is always underestimated.

We do things because we believe in them.

You can try to convince me of anything but I act only if I believe it. I don’t have to necessarily believe in you. As long as I believe in the thing that you stand for, its  OK.

Unfortunately, we forget about this most basic human drive to our peril.

If you are trying to sell, you’ll probably get a customer for the day.  If you make me believe in what you are doing, you’ve got me for life.

Not just that..

I will move mountains if I believe in something. I will burn with the light within me. I will not take no for an answer for the things I believe in. I will evangelize at every opportunity. I will also create
opportunities where none might have existed.

Now, I will trade one believer to a thousand non-believing customers!

Then why do we go on tracking as though customers are just numbers?

Why do we go about toiling on things we don’t believe in?