Monday, 2 June 2014

Don’t Die with your Music still in You

Sad but true, most men will die with the music still in them!
All of us are special beings, gifted abundantly with many innate talents and skills, all created with a special purpose and contribution to make to the world. Maybe your contribution is to be a great teacher who can mould young minds for a great future. Or you could be a great scientist who will finally find the cure for AIDS. Maybe you are a gifted writer who will leave a lasting impression with your insightful words. Or a great entrepreneur who will set up a company that will provide work to millions. Whatever your inherent talent and passion, don’t let it get snuffed out when your time’s up.
Life is too short to endlessly put off your dreams, hoping that someday, you’ll magically begin to actually live your real dream. Ask yourself “If I were to die within the next 48 hours, have I really achieved my life’s purpose? Have I really played out my music?” If your answer is a resounding NO, then what’s your excuse?
I’ve seen so many people live out their final years being bitter, resentful and angry about the fact that they never took a shot at pursuing their passion. To know that there are millions out there who will die by this time tomorrow with the music still left silent in them is a tragedy. Reminds me of the words of Rabindranath Tagore, “I have been stringing and re-stringing my instrument while the song I came to sing remains unsung.” I hope you are not going to end up being one of those teeming millions who utter these poignant words in your final moments!
I do agree that it’s a very scary process to break out of the comfort mould and listen to the music within. But taking the first step to playing out your passion isn’t as daunting as lying on your death bed wondering if your entire life’s existence has been wasted.
Start the process by asking yourself the all important question, “Why am I here?” Is it to accumulate tons of money and other material possessions? Safeguard your job till you retire? Spend more money and time protecting these accumulated resources? Well, ironical isn’t it, the only thing you can’t take away with you are these possessions! And here’s the shocker! While you’re slogging so hard to accumulate your material possessions, you could just die unexpectedly. No warning, no more time left to play out your song. As abruptly as that!
Now let’s look at the converse. What’s the damage if you pursue your passion? If you are currently unhappy with your life, then you are already bankrupt from within! So what’s the real risk? If you’re stuck at a job that you hate but still endure just to earn your daily wage then your life is already a sham and will further sink into despair as the years roll by. The emptiness will gnaw from within and it’s only a matter of time before this takes a toll on your physical wellbeing. In the long run, your material possessions are going to crumble to dust one day. Lose it before it loses you!
So what do I mean when I re-iterate “Don’t die with the music still in you”? I think you already know the answer. You are aware of your sense of’s only making that leap of faith that’s preventing you from playing out your own unique song. You’re educated, resourceful and long do you think it will take before you convert your passion into a revenue stream. The interim ‘leap of faith’ period may be the only fiscally tough period, but you have to take that plunge sooner or later. Why not now? Anyways you’re spending the greater part of your time slogging away at a thankless job making money for someone else, why not make that money for yourself even as you pursue your life’s passion?

Don’t hesitate, commit to your dream. Initiative taken is the first step, and once on the path to accomplishing your passion, you will be surprised at how the cosmos will conspire to align all forces in your favour. Unforeseen people and resources that you couldn’t have even imagined will come your way, albeit magically! But that’s only because you chose to take the first step. Go ahead...take that leap of least you didn’t let your music die in you!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Transform your Barriers into Bridges

When you look back at the bigger picture of your life, you will realize that you’ve come a long way. You've experienced change and growth, evolved into a more knowledgeable person and become a wiser being who has hopefully given back substantially to the very society that shaped you into becoming a better human being.
Yet, there have been many phases during this journey when you’ve felt hampered and stifled in your attempts. Many a time your own denial or reluctance to change has been the biggest contributor to this scenario. Let’s be honest, most us hate change. But ‘Change’ is the only ‘Constant’ in life! So what truly stops us from growing if it is so vital to our evolution and our wellbeing? Well, the first step to transforming your barriers into bridges for growth is the honest acceptance of the fact that these barriers do exist in your mind, translating into a subconscious disinclination to evolve and change. Once your mind’s eye becomes aware of these inherent barriers, growth is certain!
Let’s size up the Barriers and build the germane Bridges to help you conquer these mind-blocks. Here are 9 prominent Barriers & Bridges to growth:
1.     FEAR – Barriers are manifold, the most prominent being ‘FEAR’! An inexplicable fear of the unknown that come hand-in-hand with change de-motivates you from taking the very first step to change. Prevail over that poisonous ‘What If’ nagging thought in your head if you ever have to evolve. Change the ‘What If’ barrier into a bridge called ‘Why Not’, and watch how quickly your life will transform for the better.
2.   PRIDE – Hanging on to the past will never let you grow. Gloating over past successes or worse yet harping over the injuries to your ego in the past will never allow you to progress and heal. Au contraire, they only serve to keep you rooted in the past, fortify the hurt experienced and victimize you further. ‘Let go, Forgive and Forget’...follow these 3 simple rules vital to your growth process.
3.     FALSE MIRROR IMAGE – Believing that you don’t need to grow and improve because you are perfect is selfish, narrow-minded and disastrous. Even on rare occasions, perfection can only relate to a brief state of the moment. When the moment is gone, so is that fleeting impostor feeling of being perfect. Or maybe it’s just your subliminal strategy to postpone the self-improvisation process. Remember, none amongst us is perfect, and neither are you! The faster you accept this, the better!
4.     THE BLAME GAME – Stop blaming the world for your problems. Blaming others for every single thing that happens in your life builds negativity, distrust and only harms all future relationships. If you fool yourself into believing that you are a victim of the world around you, then you will never evolve to learn about the all important power of ‘Responsibility’. Stop believing that the world owes you anything. The cosmos, your family, bosses, colleagues and friends owe you nothing. It is you, and only you who will be responsible for choosing either the barriers or the bridges that will contribute towards crafting your life story.
5.    A FATALISTIC APPROACH – From the very beginning we are surrounded by a fatalistic concept of ‘Karma’ which can falsely be misunderstood as a ‘loss of control over our lives’. Of course no one has complete control over the future, but we do have total control over our mind. And it’s ultimately the mind that controls all matter, perception and efforts therein. Change your thinking, change your world!
6.      LACK OF PLANNING – Most of us float through life accepting whatever is doled out to us, without ever pausing to etch out definitive goals or striving to break out of the ordinary to overachieve expectations. Time to end this laissez faire mode of existence! It’s time to take stock of your Life! Chart out your Goals, draw up a realistic step-by-step activity roadmap, and provide for well defined timelines. Personal Growth and Success will automatically follow.
7.   UNFOCUS & REFOCUS – Most of us focus on that which we don’t want, especially when we have experienced a psychological trauma. Unfortunately, the mind takes that very focus and sets about creating or attracting to it the very thing you have strived to avoid. For most of us, this is a very unconscious reflex activity, so we don’t even realize that we’re doing it. Get around this barrier by first identifying the sour emotions your mind undergoes every time you think about the unpleasant situation. So now you’ve figured out that every time your mood turns dark, you are subconsciously focusing on the unwanted situation. Now all you’ve got to do is ‘Unfocus’ ie: pull your focus back to ‘Refocus’ on what you really want. The faster you train your mind to ‘Unfocus’ and ‘Refocus’, the faster you can get back on track and pummel your way to attaining your actual goals.
8.     LACK OF RESOURCES – This is a common excuse across all strata of society. Some of the greatest achievers in society had neither time, contacts or money, but they also never wasted time on excuses. There’s a good chance you are merely citing the lack of these resources as an excuse to justify you unwillingness to push your boundaries and go beyond your comfort zone. Stop Whining & start Winning! Identify, prioritize and kick aside these mental obstacles. The faster you realize these excuses are hampering your growth, the better it is for you!
9.   YOUR BELIEFS ARE A SUM TOTAL OF YOUR VALUES – This is the easiest and yet the most neglected part of the growth process. Make a list of all the things you value in your life. This can include your friends, possessions, hobbies, feelings...just about anything that truly matters in your life. And then take a long hard look at you ‘List of Values’. Your values are anchors upon which all your core beliefs are based. This is the REAL YOU! If you are genuinely keen on setting out on the path of change and growth, you will need to identify, refine and redefine your core Values. This in turn will have a massive cascade effect on your mind, and your entire life!

Awareness in and of itself is transformative. Your mind knows no Boundaries, the power of your Imagination is limitless. How much you will accomplish in life is only defined by your vision and resolve. If you have decided that you cannot accomplish anything, then you are doomed to be crushed by your very own self-imposed barriers to fail all through life. However, if you choose to build your bridges by believing that you can accomplish anything, coupled with focus, effort, humility, discipline and perseverance, then there is absolutely no force on this planet that will dare stand in your way on your march to success!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Galvanize your higher purpose

We are witnessing a global awakening of epic proportions today. Millions of people around the world are searching for their reason of being alive and trying to find ways to align their lives with a higher calling and deeper purpose. There’s a constant pull from within, a yearning for more meaningful work, deeper relationships with others, and a desperate desire to share one’s unique talents so as to leave behind a lasting legacy and help make this world a better place.

Many are wading through unknown territory. There’s no clear roadmap for this new consciousness. Our education has taught us not to nurture our highest aspirations but to ensure basic survival. We have been taught the necessary skills to labour away in our jobs, but we have not been empowered enough to be passionate, creative people who can collaborate and think beyond-the-box to forge a new path ahead together. Society currently seeks to maintain the status quo and has not yet encouraged us to develop our highest potential and make a meaningful shift into the future.

So what prevents most of us from discovering our higher purpose in life and fulfilling it? Shockingly, many people give up on their true calling because of all the perceived trouble that comes with making it come true. We have enough excuses to augment our argument, ranging from ‘My parents won’t approve’, ‘It’s way too difficult’, ‘It’s not realistic’, ‘It won’t pay my bills’, ‘It won’t work’, ‘It’s too late’, to ‘I am comfortable the way I am.’ We resist a more meaningful life because we choose to trip ourselves up. Worse yet, many have simply buried their life’s purpose to such an extent that they don’t even know where to begin to find it. Tragic, yet true!

So where does one begin the journey towards discovering one’s higher calling? First, discard all the obsolete redundant beliefs that have been ploughed into your head over the decades. Realize that you exist for a reason, and you have a key role to play as we transition from the ‘Materialistic’ era into the ‘Wisdom’ era. Galvanize your higher calling by accepting new beliefs about yourself and your place in this new epoch. Realize that you are extremely fortunate to be alive at a historical turning point of human evolution. Understand that civilization is in the process of realignment. Social structures are starting to disband and brand new chapters are being written, such as the rise of women to occupy an equal role in society and intolerance to any form of racial discrimination. Business ethics and corporate governance is changing rapidly, which in turn will impact our financial beliefs and our attitude towards politics and businesses. Societies globally are fusing together into one big melting pot even as unique cultural identities are being preserved and revered. For the very first time we are waking up to the reality that we no longer just have to ‘exist’, instead we need to ‘live with a higher purpose’! 

The next step is to take a journey within to discover your unique talents and skills. This includes tapping your physical, mental, emotional, psychological and spiritual states to help you further narrow down and identify your goal in life. Ask yourself ‘What do I enjoy doing & why do I love doing it?’; ‘What are the unique talents bestowed by the universe upon me?’; ‘Why are these talents important?’; ‘Where do I really find my bliss and why?’; ‘What have I always found meaningful and why has it held significance to me?’ Gauge your feelings as you start unearthing your answers....the answers that surge you with positive energy hold the real clue to your true purpose in life. This entire process will not only help you discard areas that are irrelevant to your life’s purpose but more importantly identify the distinctive capabilities to help you rise to a new state of being.

A key area to avoid here is ‘self-sabotage’. You are most likely to get in your own way during this journey of self-discovery. Years of habituation and irrational fears will act subconsciously to make you believe that you have no purpose. You may simply want to quit. Or worse yet, naysayers will ridicule your endeavour and attempt to devalue your purpose. Push past all this resistance and just keep at it. Let go of your fears, get out of your own way and follow your heart.

Finally, take the all important bold step of liberating centuries of outdated conditioning and obsolete habits to embrace your true calling in this new aeon. Your work, relationships and behaviour will resonate with a sense of purpose. Life will no longer be a drudgery undertaken due to guilt or compulsion, but a celebration for undertaking tasks that are an extension of your higher purpose and your true reason for existence.

It’s important to note here that discovering your purpose is the easy part. The tough part is keeping at it on a daily basis and working on yourself to the point that you converge with your purpose to become that purpose.

If you wish to go beyond simply staying alive but finding something worthwhile to live for, then take the bold step of discovering your true calling and galvanizing your higher purpose. Remember, you were created to live out your purpose, to achieve your greatest potential, and to do so fearlessly.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Be careful what you aim for...

42 year old Neil had a dream job heading a billion $ global multinational conglomerate, a generous seven figure salary package, an all expenses paid business class travel that involved jet-setting the globe and schmoozing with the who’s who of the business and entertainment world, all the latest tech-gadgets and a host of other magnificent perks that came with the territory. Everything he had ever aspired for and more! Neil had it all...or did he?

Neil was twice divorced and his third wife was already uttering the dreaded ‘D’ word. He had fought for joint custody of his two daughters from his first marriage, not that it mattered as he was never around to attend their piano recitals or attend parent-teacher forums. Their disappointed faces were a constant poignant reminder of his failure as a father. He could never take leave from his work, and even weekends were repeatedly interrupted by streams of urgent phone calls and text messages from investors, clients and his business managers. One would imagine that at his level Neil could turn off the phone and refuse to stay wired to his computer - after all, it was a weekend. But Neil had worked too long and hard to attain this level of success, and he wasn’t going to let down his stakeholders, not to mention, let his guard down as alpha dog!

But two decades had taken its toll and the cracks were starting to show in Neil’s marriage, family affairs, state of mind and health. A nagging feeling of despair, uncertainty and emptiness had started overwhelming his psyche. He was feeling more disconnected and uncertain about the road ahead. A gnawing realization had started setting in that this was not what he truly wanted when he embarked on his career two decades ago. If Neil’s story sounds familiar to you or someone you’re close to, maybe it’s time to take stock and ask yourself if this is really what you had wished for.

Most of Gen X fondly reminisce about the good ol’ days, and rightly so, because they were good! Even if creature comforts and technology were mildly adequate, we can probably all agree that today’s family and work dynamic is more complex than ever before. Even the lingo used is so much more complicated: You’re not “Busy”; you’re “Overscheduled.” There are no “breadwinners”, now we’re classified as “DINK’s” ie: Double Income, No Kids.” Children are no longer those sweet innocent kids who roamed around the neighbourhood on bicycles and played hop-scotch-jump around the kerb, oh no, your 7 year old could be internet-savvy enough to hack into the Government Treasury Department and bring down the entire grid.

So what really happened? Did we become more driven by necessity, more obsessed with desires, more motivated by our aspirations? Were liberalization and the burgeoning economy a prime driver that fuelled our ambitions? Were we simply competing with our peers, or just trying to prove a point to ourselves? As the race picked up, we strived to have it all by becoming more efficient, mobile and indispensible, therein spending more and more time away from our loved ones. We wanted it all...the great career, model marriage, luxurious home, great kids, and the envious lifestyle. And we wanted it all NOW! The scales started tilting, and in a span of two decades the consequences of our frenetic pursuit lay bare for all to see. A society filled to the brim with self-serving, acquisitive, career-driven people, who exert endlessly to etch a semblance of sanity and equilibrium between their desire to have the best at work and maintain a sense of connect with their families. It all came at a high irreversible cost!

When you begin to relate going to work to entering a torture chamber, and you spend more money on prescriptions than you do groceries, you may be ready to hit the pause button, reflect and take a relook at whether what you have is really what you wished for, and whether it has all been worth it! Whilst I am certainly not advocating chucking it all up and heading off into the mountains (after all, there are tangible and intangible costs to making any desire come true), I am certainly advising an examination of whether the benefits attained are outweighing the costs.

Let’s first analyze the theory of the dream job versus the lucrative profession. A dream job is often a matter of personal penchant, and normally well suited to the individual's personal situation. Therefore a person who is fond of baking would prefer a job in a bakery churning out the best of pastries and constantly learning new techniques to upgrade his skills in this area of work. That such a job may be exceedingly lucrative is open to debate, but nevertheless, he is at least integrating his passion with his choice of career. Unfortunately the highest-paying professions including Medicine, Law, Information Technology, Marketing & Sales, Banking and Airlines are rarely childhood dreams for many and take the highest toll on your work-life balance. The costs in pursuing these glamorous and well-paid professions range from the tangible such as the monetary cost of education to the intangibles including the long work hours and the high levels of stress involved. There’s also the cost of ‘uncertainty’. Being the top dog in your profession means always being on your guard and wary about your job being snatched by a more ambitious person around the block, or worse yet, layoffs in such a recessionary scenario. The expensive lifestyle and glamorous facade pursued and created to impress your neighbours now becomes the very noose around your neck.

Of course, there are obvious benefits of chasing those money-spinning, super glamorous, much aspired for careers. Most of us have secretly yearned for name, fame, money and an enviable glamorous lifestyle when we were young. The resentment in our peers faces as we raced ahead to the top acted as a drug that further fuelled our ambition. The only question here is whether we were aware of the price we had to pay to reach the summit, and once attained, was it all as amazing as portrayed to be? Were we told in college about the layers and levels of sacrifice that would be required to reach the top? That aiming for the top meant ‘Do or Die’? It would mean losing spouses, friends, relatives and peace of mind. A lifetime’s play of patience, ambiguity, ridicule, triumph and failure. The gut wrenching loneliness that you experienced once you reached the top. The euphoria on reaching the summit would last barely a few days, but after that a realization would set in that it was not as worthwhile as you thought it would be!

Maybe this sounds extreme, but I rarely know of anyone who has had an easy ride to the top. Not to mention the constant stress involved in staying at the top! Ultimately, it’s your choice. Whether the benefits of reaching the top of your profession outweigh the physical and emotional costs, or vice versa, is a matter of personal choice and preference. From decades of personal experience I can only advise that no matter what you choose, do try to choose a career where you like what you do. Choose a domain that’s a natural extension of your personality, talent and skills. Let your work become a bigger life goal than simply a means to earn that paycheque at the end of every month. Embrace a career that serves as an extension of your core identity, something that you take on with love and passion, in the process hopefully inspiring your family to extend the much needed support to create the necessary balance during the strenuous moments. When you genuinely love what you do, irrespective of the price involved, you’ll still feel motivated and happy in the knowledge that you have fulfilled your life’s purpose and left behind a better world. The glamorous rewards, if any, will only be a by-product of this rewarding life journey and fortunately not the main goal that you imprudently embarked upon at the start of your career.

“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Centuries later, Confucius’ theory holds even greater significance as many ambitious yet perplexed youngsters roll out of the educational system and choose their rightful place in the complex and ever evolving corporate world.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

If the Social Media Mirror Crack’d?

In my previous article entitled ‘Are you Invaluable’ I received a lot of feedback from youngsters on the pros and cons of the growing precedence today of creating well crafted profiles across multiple social media platforms, all aimed at strategically boosting their visage and thus their ‘self-worth’. Interesting point of view, and a noteworthy subject for debate and discussion.

We live in an age where people are quick to judge and asses others based on subjective perception rather than objective reality. Where ‘packaging’ is treated as being more important than ‘content’. At a time when people are in doubt of their genuine self-worth, unsure about their future goals, and are in desperate need of their real selves being seen, heard and appreciated, this contemporary scenario may be counterproductive.

The Social Media scene vindicates this fact. No other medium enables people to reach others so rapidly with the power of ‘perception’ overriding ‘reality’. You may have 5,000 FB friends, 12,000 Twitter followers and 1,500 LinkedIn connections, but does this define your true value and impact? It only showcases your ability to effectively construct an online identity and habitually feed it with well crafted information and visuals required to further embellish the fashioned identity. The perceptual power of social media platforms have allowed people to position themselves as self proclaimed ‘gyaan gurus’, while the real experts are yet to be discovered or have decided to share their knowledge with niche target groups via selective interactive sessions.

The way people use their social media vehicle reflects not only their intellect and persona, but also the deeply rooted feelings they have about themselves. It reveals their level of self-worth, willpower and originality. People with lower self-worth worry more about what others post about them on the medium, whilst those with higher self-esteem spend more time building their personal brand, adding greater value to their audiences with original information provided. And of course, there are those with phobic tendencies who spend more time monitoring their FB wall, replying instantaneously to messages received and deleting unwelcome posts that affront their perceived self image. The more hours you spend addicted to these social media platforms, the more you feel that the items posted in the virtual space are an extension to your real identity.

Social media is still an evolving platform which requires a greater level of comprehension, commitment and responsibility.  If you are active on social media only to increase your number of friends and connections without offering any real value during the process then you are doing it for all the wrong reasons. The aim is to add value to the audience that you are connecting with, and if you don’t value yourself, you are being irresponsible to those who expect value from you.  

These virtual platforms must not become your only mirror for “self-valuation”. Unfortunately many people have become obsessed with managing and tracking their online presence only because they have falsely confused it as a platform of evaluating their ‘self-worth’. I shudder to think of a day in the future if the social media mirror cracks! Will that distressing moment expose the real value of a generation that grew up on believing that this medium aptly captured and reflected their ‘self worth’?

So how does a youngster differentiate his self worth between the falsehood of the number of likes received on these online platforms versus the real thing? To begin with, juggle your time prudently between building both online and offline channels of connect and communication. Balance is vital. How people respond to you, your views, thoughts, opinions and actions in the real world need to be similar, if not better, to that present in the online domain. You have limited time in this world, so use it well and create a positive and lasting impact. In the end, that’s all that you will be remembered and valued for.

Don’t waste your time in comparative assessments. Whenever you compare yourself to others, you risk losing your identity and further minimizing your value. It’s appalling to see how many talented youngsters spend valuable time regurgitating someone else’s quote, opinion, dream or product rather than valuing their own selves enough to create their own unique ideas. Drive yourself to innovate constantly. The minute you indulge in a cut-paste display of someone else’s content you have weakened your ability to think out of the box, innovate and grow. Instead focus on your exclusive skill sets, views and passion, and create your own unique magic.

As elaborated in my previous article, stop linking your self-worth to the expectations of others. It’s disheartening to see so many able youngsters blindly following the herd and allowing their views and their lives to be defined by others. If you are living or portraying an image that is linked to someone else’s expectation, then you are living a lie and wasting your life. Discover your true identity, take charge of this real identity, be true to who you are, and fearlessly uphold your true self-image in the virtual and real space. Surround yourself with online and offline friends who believe in your dreams and add value to your self-worth, not those who repeatedly pull you down or falsely, or worse yet, consent to all your views, therein completely distorting your self-image.

As we evolve to a value based era, it will become vital for the youth to balance knowledge with application. They will have to become living examples of what they preach. And for that, inner value, trust and strength are critical. These espoused values will become the foundation of their self-worth, their handiwork, their legacy and the pillars around which future generations and economies will be created. Originality and innovation will become imperative. Values and real ‘self-worth’ will become more central than ever before. 

It’s a thin line between real and perceived ‘self worth’. While spending adequate time on these social networks can boost your self-esteem, getting obsessed with your online identity and others perception of you in the virtual space may border on narcissism and paranoia. Social Media is a mere extension and enforcer of society’s need to connect as also its obsession with itself. While these sites can help build connect and in the process enhance your identity, they are not short-cuts to building self-esteem. Building genuine ‘self-worth’ is a long and tedious road, and can only be achieved by balancing genuine relationships and accomplishments in both the virtual and real world.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Are You Invaluable?

All infants are born with an equal sense of ‘Self-Worth’. As life progresses and we mature, the remarks, observations, expectations, and attitudes of the people surrounding us can corrode this inherent sense of self-worth. Self-worth is a crucial part of our mental make-up. It’s what makes us believe that we have the ingrained talents and skills to contribute our best, achieve our dreams, give back abundantly to society, and lead a fulfilling life.

But what happens to the teeming millions who suffer with crippling issues of low self-worth? Are you one of those silent victims of low self-esteem? Have you ever felt your self-respect being shattered after the belittlement done by a colleague? Do you find yourself sceptical when a toxic friend tries to ‘downgrade’ you despite your inner disagreement towards what has been said? Know that this belittling act is a purposeful and hurtful act, intended to emotionally and psychologically harm. Most people will experience misery when faced with such situations, especially when being taunted in front of a group of peers. It is pretty hard to avoid being upset initially, but over the years you will discover that the offender is also ruining his stature by indulging in this insensitive and crude display of ego. In fact many of these tormentors will end up miserable and alone without many true friends left due to their destructive nature of degrading everyone around them.

So how does one deal with toxic people who doggedly try to demean your self-esteem? It makes it a lot easier to deal with the situation if you comprehend that the bully always tries to overwhelm the other person’s self-esteem with an aim to elevate their own dignity. They may be silently battling self esteem issues of their own, and that’s why the belittling act makes them feel better after they have transmitted the ‘unhappy experience’ on to others. Unfortunately, this denigration act will only gratify them temporarily, and this becomes a recurring and vicious bully-victim cycle.

Another tactic is to simply walk away. The tormenter who is trying to humiliate you will feel even more uncomfortable, if not confused, when you don’t respond to him. Of course, if this person happens to be your boss or an elderly person, show your civility by giving a brief and courteous response before walking away.

As toxic personalities are certain to haunt us at every juncture of our life, it is important to develop feasible techniques to deal with the associated issues of low self worth. A simple method is to wake up every morning and start the day with at least 5 minutes of alone ‘ME’ time focused on reminding yourself about your skills and strengths. Understand the power of your attitude toward yourself and have a realistic view about yourself. How you view yourself, how you talk about yourself, and how you present yourself eventually becomes the ‘real’ you.

Another method involves learning to trust your own feelings. Listen to and rely upon your own feelings and do not fall for the trap of automatically responding or reacting to the feelings of others. Do not reinforce the discredit shown by others by belittling your own worth, making light of your opinions, and letting go of opportunities. Everyone is blessed with unique strengths and gifts. Recognize and celebrate the fact that you are a valuable human being, equal to all, and that your skills, talents and opinions are of great magnitude.

Today, we live in a culture that is addicted to visiting psychoanalysts, preachers and a host of other people who are more than willing to analyze us at the drop of a hat. Seriously, unless you've got a severe disorder, daily anxiety or low self worth issues don’t require hours of expensive analysis by an outsider. All you need is some time off to introspect and analyze yourself so that you can clearly recognize where you're underrating and short-changing yourself. The answers will automatically follow.

Also, stop linking your self-worth to the expectations of others. Once you try to live up to an image of what you think others want you to be, you will lose your identity and end up following a pathway created by other people's expectations. Unfortunately, many people live this way, including making key life choices including studies, career, residential location, who to marry and how many children to bear, based on the expectations generated by their family, friends, colleagues and the media. Many choose not to offend their loved ones, but most are afraid of standing up for their own preferences and upholding their self-worth.

Many self help books espouse the miraculous theory of ‘self-affirmation’. I disagree with these theories partly due to the fact that ‘self-affirmations’ are no magical potions and cannot by themselves raise your self-esteem. The truth is somewhat different... while it's important to use positive self-affirmation, it is also important to work actively on building your sense of self-worth. And this can only be attained by accepting responsibility for the fact that you are in control of your attitude, your feelings, and your sense of worth. No one can put you down without your assent!

Nowadays, self-worth is largely determined by our career, income and lifestyle displayed. In a society that tends to define people by ‘what they do’ rather than by ‘who they are’, there is a great risk of underestimating your self-worth because it's irrevocably linked to job prestige and income generated. Don’t reply "Oh I'm just a ..." in reply to the question "So what do you do?" You are not "just" anything – you are an exceptional, valuable, amazing person who matters.

Developing self-worth is a gradual and ongoing process. Treat it as an integral part of your daily routine. Maintain your focus on self-worth as an important part of what goes into making you a wholesome being. It takes time, patience and courage to change a negative self-image and breaking the destructive pattern of allowing others to walk all over you. Many will be bothered when they discover the new, more assertive and confident you, but don't let that worry you because this is about your journey, not theirs.

Treat your life as a journey scattered with a series of ordeals and tests designed only to strengthen you. Many times we have been dropped, our minds crushed and our spirits ground into the dirt both by the decisions we chose to make and through the situations we encountered. At such moments most of us have felt worthless in this world. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, always remember that you will never lose your worth. Everybody is special. Know your value, demarcate your boundaries, set your goals, and march relentlessly towards achieving your dreams. Remember, you have been created with a purpose, and you are still alive today only to accomplish that marvellous purpose.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

The 21st Century Treadmill to Nowhere...

Do you feel like you are on a perpetual treadmill, going nowhere, yet constantly running really fast? No matter how fast you run, the treadmill outpaces you every single time. If yes, then you are one of the many millions racing on the ‘21st Century Treadmill to Nowhere’!

Most of us can are perpetually running, and yet so often it seems we are running in the same place. Every day we take the same route to office, sit at the same work desk, pay the same bills, crack the same jokes with the same circle of friends, clean the same set of dirty dishes and sort out the same piles of laundry. We generate reams of correspondence, only to receive more replies that require more pages of communication from our ends. We pay off our credit card bills only to receive more bills in the post. We repair the microwave to discover the water heater has just busted up. The daily incessant media outpour of natural disasters, political scams, gloom and misery have further desensitized us to even the most shocking of news reports. Every night we hit the pillow feeling we have clocked in the necessary miles and we’re a little closer to our goals, but every morning we wake up to the same old if the miles logged on the treadmill have been completely erased and reset back to zero. It’s always the same wretched race, an unending race to nowhere.

Most of us are so busy running on this treadmill that we lose focus on the things that really matter in life. Before we know it, the seconds have turned to minutes, the days have become weeks, and the months have transformed into years. And when we finally take time to pause and catch our breath, we look back in retrospect and think, “Where did all that time go? What have I really achieved so far?”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that everything you’ve been chasing or doing so far has been a mistake. It’s commendable that you lead a wholesome and busy life, being pulled in a million different directions and needed by so many different audiences. The important point to note here is that you’ve never had enough time to devote to things that really mattered to you — but rather, your time needed was spent doing something else. Every time you decide to focus on one thing in your life, you’ve also decided not to spend that time on something else. Unfortunately, once opportunities are lost, they’re often lost forever — and the treadmill is back to zero miles on the display window.

But for what it’s worth, it’s never too late to get off the treadmill to nowhere and head towards wherever you choose to be. There’s no dearth of opportunities, no time limit to achieving your goals, and no rules in living your passion. Set out on a pathway that translates into a life well lived and one that you will be proud of. And in case you fall or get sidetracked along the way, you always know you can chart your way back and start all over again. After all, life is the greatest journey of discovery!

So, if you think it’s time to jump off the treadmill and change course, it’s important to identify some vital signposts to help point you in the right direction:

1.     SET AN AGENDA – Do you even have a goal? Do you permit everyone around you to create or control your daily agenda? Are you aimlessly running after tasks all by yourself or do you effectively delegate? Or worse still, do you ask your loved ones to do all the accommodating whilst allowing others to monopolize and crush your dreams?
2.     PRIORITIZE – Do you procrastinate and allow inconsequential tasks to blindside you from doing the things that you should care about the most? Identify what matters most to you. And then makes it a point to spend a portion of your time in that area.
3.     TIME MANAGEMENT – Are you one of those who spends more time thinking or talking about what you’re going to do, or are you committed to putting your holistic efforts to achieving the dream? When was the last time you identified and eradicated unimportant chores and routines? Have you even taken the first baby steps towards embarking on your dream?
4.     MINDFULNESSEngage with the present moment. It’s easy to step back to the safety of the treadmill, go into a mindless jog and let our repetitive habits carry us through the day. Pause every few hours and take stock of the situation. Let your breathing be your anchor to the present moment. Mindfulness will help you become an active participant in your daily life.
5.     MAKE PEACE WITH YOURSELF – Are you more concerned about what you want out of life or about what others think? Do you value creating magnificent memories or are purely focused on material rewards that must be flaunted? Are you investing in your family and friends, or taking them for granted?  When was the last time you were honest with yourself? Take a journey of discovery’ll be surprised at what you discover!
6.     INDULGE IN HOBBIES – We habitually let go of our leisure pursuits because we feel they aren’t a good use of our limited time. But hobbies are an extension of our true identities, bring inimitable happiness and take our minds temporarily off the mundane. Spending time on enjoyable activities stimulates parts of the brain associated with our outlook on life and inspires us to be more imaginative and to think positive!
7.     PUSH BOUNDARIES – Put yourself out there. Being outside your comfort zone creates a level of optimal anxiety which maximizes your productivity and performance. Pushing your boundaries occasionally will make you a more productive, flexible and creative person. It could be as simple as taking trying a new cuisine, or seeing a new movie without reading the reviews first, to more dramatic events such as bungee jumping or getting a permanent tattoo.
8.     GO ON, DISCOVERPut yourself out there geographically. Travel, see new places, interact with new people, taste different cuisines. Expand your horizons and broaden your perspective on people, cultures, and the world as a whole. Learn more about the world and create eternal memories to last a lifetime.
9.     FRIENDSHIPS – We take the ones we are closest to for granted. Devote time to your friendships. Make some time to grab coffee with your buddy, or set up a night out with your college clique. Healthy social interactions serve as a great destressor, provide a sense of fulfilment that is detached from the core pillars of work and family, and offer a fantastic net to fall back on during your low moments.
10.  LEARN – Learn something new constantly, expand your knowledge, become more adaptable to change, enjoy more stimulating conversations, and feel more independent. In an era of manifold self help manuals and tutorial videos on YouTube, there’s no excuse to never stop learning.
11.  GIVE BACK – Offer your time or resources back to society. Help the underprivileged and feel more fulfilled in your life. It will also offer you a much needed perspective of the many blessings present in your life and fill you up with gratitude. Volunteer to a Cause that’s significant to you, or find a group that needs volunteers!

11 easy steps that can fill your life with happiness and get you on the right track to leading a more wholesome life. But it’s ultimately your decision. Pause long enough to reflect on where you’ve been and do a reality check on whether you’ve squandered much of your precious time already. Even those who have secured enviable positions of power and wealth admit that their decision to run on the 21st century treadmill has come with real costs, both in their relationships and lost cherished moments that can never be replaced.

This doesn’t have to be you. It’s never too late to get off that treadmill, choose your preferred pathway and fulfil your dreams. Time equals Life, so when you master your time, you master your life!  The key is to establish clear goals that matter most to you and your loved ones, align your priorities around these goals, and then pursue them, while taking time to enjoy your life and remain true to yourself and to those who love you.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Life is no ‘Test Run’

By sheer definition, the terminology ‘Test Run’ is explained as ‘An exercise aimed at putting the object or system concerned through a series of actions under actual or simulated environmental / operating conditions to ascertain its status, reliability or suitability to the task’.

Every word of the above definition compels you to relook at your existence and wonder if your life has just been reduced into an endless series of test runs and practise sessions? Nowadays people constantly complain about how they feel their lives are simply passing them by. That they have been reduced to mere machines that wake up, go about their routine tasks, go to work, handle personal chores, and before they know it, hit the sack, only to restart the entire monotonous cycle all over again. Everyone is waking up to a mounting fear about whether they are really living the life they want. And as the years go by it’s no longer a silent doubt. It’s a stark reality!

Maybe you’re one of the many people who have tried to abort this fear by adding “Live life to the Fullest” in your New Year’s resolution list. And maybe, you’re one of the lucky few who managed to break out this vicious ‘Test Run’ cycle to go follow your dreams. If so, you are the sensible one that got out of this futile labyrinth. Not so easy for the others.

‘Life Is No Test Run’’s worth repeating and comprehending the fundamental essence of this phrase, as a majority of the masses live today as though life is a generous practise session. In other words, they act without a sense of urgency to live the life they both desire and were meant to live! Instead of actively working towards pursuing and living their passion, a majority of people stop short of achieving their goal. In other words, they abandon the ‘Dream’.

Most people fool themselves into believing that there’s still a lot of time left to set out and achieve their dreams. That every drudgery filled moment today is just a ‘Test Run’ for attaining their real goals later. Well, here’s the reality check ... the time for practice was long over. Practice time was while you were growing up. Practice time was while you were in school. Consider the practise time given during your college years as the final extra bonus time granted.

Today, you are a full participant in the ‘Game of Life’, and your only opponent is ‘Mediocrity’. In the absence of burning desire, intense effort, intelligent human activity and supreme endurance, the tentacles of failure will move in to destroy your dreams and maybe even that small amount of progress that your efforts had created initially.

No one can afford to wait for that warning bell. A paralytic stroke, the death of a loved one reminding us of our own mortality, the chilled tone of the family doctor spelling out the grim prognosis that one has but a few more weeks to live, that awful fleeting moment when one shockingly wakes up to the bitter truth that you lost your way through the maze of life and have no game plan left, or worse yet, no time left. You simply cannot afford to wait until the last few ticks of the clock to become intense about life’s prospects. Each of us was meant to fully partake of life, to experience the full pageantry that life has to offer from living out our passion. Life is a precious gift granted only once, one that can’t be reduced to a mere ‘Test Run’. Each day used up as a ‘Test Run’ is a day lost. How many such ‘lost’ days you tally in your life is entirely your choice.

If you have to get out of this ‘Test Run’ mode, it becomes essential to challenge yourself every waking minute with a new level of thinking, and drive yourself aggressively towards a new level of accomplishment. You must impose upon yourself a certain discipline and develop a brand new attitude towards life that not only motivates you but also inspires everyone around you. Stop moping and waiting for foolproof opportunities or generous miracles to come your way before you force yourself to get serious. You must identify the current opportunity, albeit limited, and embrace it. It’s vital to breathe your talent and vigour and your newfound sense of urgency into the creation of your dream, and along the way discover the fortitude and genius within.

Risks will always abound when you walk down the solitary path to follow your passion, but you cannot allow yourself to ponder indefinitely upon the risks in every opportunity adopted. Au contraire, you must seize the opportunity inherent in every risk, knowing that you must sometimes run the peril of going too far in order to discover how far you can really go!

Change your life now by developing a newfound sense of urgency. Articulate your inner soul goals, plan out a personal strategy map that can help you reach your goals, live and breathe your passion every single day, and above all, persevere against all odds. Remember, the clock is ticking and your life force is draining away by the minute. You have the ability to achieve whatever your heart desires, but only if you choose to begin the process NOW! The final result of your life will be determined by whether you made too many errors in judgment repeated every day, or whether you threw caution to the wind and lived a purposeful life, each day enthusiastically devoted to the cause of achieving your dream, as though this was no ‘Test Run’.

Time doesn’t know reversal, and your life is no Test Run. Courage encounters many obstacles, yet perseverance serves up many just rewards. But know this, if you choose to ‘go the other way’, to pursue your dreams and live your passion, that is the moment you truly begin living your life. Therefore, make Today the first day of your new life. Listen to your inner voice, remember your lost childhood dreams, and revive your true passion. And then, go all out and just do it. Live boldly, ardently, if there truly is no Tomorrow!