Category Archives: education

Stop being the problem and Start becoming the solution


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Remember “Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen” from 1999???


Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.

The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience…I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.

But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked….You’re not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.

The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that scares you Sing Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children,maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body, use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.. Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them. Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good.

Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future. Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you should hold on.

Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you
knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders. Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you.

Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one
might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you’re 40, it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it.

Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the
ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen…


It’s choice – not chance – that determines your destiny


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Amongst all the wonders we are blessed with, one of the most powerful things that we have got is the power of “free will” or Choice. Specifically the choices we can make in life on a day to day basis between good and bad and how we wish to be or become as evolving human beings. I must also say that I am aware that choices are at times limited to people based on the circumstances they live in, but I am talking about the choices that still many have in lives in an effort to have a better living and happier and meaningful lives regardless of their circumstances.

It’s choice – not chance – that determines your destiny. – Jean Nidetch

The ability to choose is an amazing powerful gift we posses that we truly do not realize or take advantage of in our lives. In order to truly understand it and use it to our advantage we need to understand the fundamental definition of Choice. It is a mental process which helps us to judge and analyze from multiple options and selecting one of them based on preference. Choosing from these multiple options usually results in a consequence or a need for action that would eventually derive at a desired consequence. In any given day as human beings we are subject to making several choices that affect our living. They may be from the simplest forms to complex in nature. The consequences of these choices or decision to choose one from another may affect our lifestyle, religious affiliation, political position, finances, attitude towards others, reaction to situations, and health almost daily.

The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice. – George Eliot

Our life essentially is nothing but a collective result of the choices we have made along the way. There are many choices were made at several moments in life, based on several experiences and circumstances, but nevertheless these were our choices and we face and live the consequences of these very choices daily. We may choose to blame the circumstances, but nevertheless the choice was ours and we are solely responsible for those choices and the eventual outcome. We each have the power and freedom to choose right from wrong. Often we end up choosing that which is easy from hard and sadly learn that the hard ends up being the right thing to do. The righteous and the just thing to do often involves hardships, disagreement from common folk, against certain odds, and at times contrary to common thinking. But it is in such choices that great accomplishments lie. Greatness has never been served on a silver platter, but it has only been earned by the choices made against all odds with the will, determination and perseverance. But it begins with the choice. And the power to choose is in your very power.

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.”- Denis Waitley (1933-…, motivational speaker and author of The Psychology of Winning)

If we examine history, great accomplishments and even the current popular inspiring stories of our times, we can clearly see that almost each and every single person had to make a very difficult choice against popular thinking, extreme criticism, severe opposition and unthinkable obstacles. Yet, each of these individuals made their choice that was right, stuck to it, persevered and accomplished great things. From a noble prince Siddhartha choosing to give up his royal luxuries life to find greater meaning in life and becoming Buddha, to Socrates’ struggle for independent thinking, to Gandhi standing up against the British Empire, to Martin Luther King’s fight for Civil Rights, to Nelson Mandela’s struggle to abolish Apartheid, the list continues to become an example of what great and right choices in life can achieve. Anne Frank, Mother Theresa, Beethoven, Vincent Van Gogh, Rosa Parks, Marie Curie, Abraham Lincoln, to modern day successes against odds and popular opinion like, Steve Jobs, Barak Obama, Michael Jordan,  Stephen Hawkins, Oprah Winfrey, Lance Armstrong,  Aung Sang Suu Kyi are all people who had the courage to choose and stand by what they believed to be right regardless of what the consequences would be. Even the most ordinary and common folk who may be lesser known do this on a daily basis. In our current day news the Pakistani Girl Malala who stood against the Taliban to encourage girls to go to school is just yet another example of everyday heroes who go great things be having the courage to take the decision and choose what is right in life.

Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable. – Peter F. Drucker

We are always faced with such choices in our lives. We are always given these options and choices to choose from in almost every aspect of our life. But we need to have the wisdom, integrity, and the will to make the right choices for ourselves. The life we live is designed to challenge you to make the right choices in daily. And each of your day to day choices result in a continuous change and the resulting consequences that shape your life. One must always remember that one can change his or her life by simply making the right choices in life. It’s entirely up to you. You can get rid of old habits, change unwanted situations, make better lifestyle choices, choose a better diet, choose better food, better friends, better reactions to situations and problems, and give yourself the wisdom and courage to achieve great things in your life by making good, educated and right choices in life.

“Until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise” – Stephen R. Covey (1932-…, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)

In today’s world, many of us are also spoilt with choices. We do not know what is good for us and what is not. Young high school kids have trouble picking a profession, university or a carrier. Young graduates have trouble picking jobs, or company to work for, others have to choose their life partners, financial options, cars, life style, cell phones, televisions, computers, and even a simple cup of coffee is from a list of options and variations. There were times where I can walk into a Café and ask for a cup of coffee. I would get a cup of coffee, few cubes of sugar and a pot of milk. Today in the name of quality service, brand and marketing gimmicks for an extra $4 whether you like it or not, you are forced to pick from Columbian, American, Costa Rican, host of other gourmet beans, ground, coarse, fine, Grande, Venti, Tall, milk, 2% milk, cream, black, white sugar, brown sugar, honey, sweetener, and still end up with just a coffee to kick-start your morning. But for some even such wonderful choices are bigger problems than luxury or convenience in their lives. It is a choice they have to make and yet feel overwhelmed as though it is being forced upon them. The luxury of choices has now become a burden for some while others may struggle to follow the only option they may have got in their lives.

“Man is made or unmade by himself. By the right choice he ascends. As a being of power, intelligence, and love, and the lord of his own thoughts, he holds the key to every situation.” – James Allen (1864-1912, author of As a Man Thinketh)

It takes a lot of work, courage, patience and thinking to make good and wise choices in life. Many of us are dealt with the same amount of choices and possibilities like the list of great achievers had. It is the choice we make that makes the difference in our lives.  There is no excuse for making poor choices but great accomplishments can be made by making simple good choices daily in our lives. From our choices in reactions to situation, to how we express our love to others, to how much hard work we are willing to put for our own success and the words we chose to express ourselves, everything little choice we make daily shapes our life. We  need to realize and truly understand  the consequences of better choices and to indulge in creative thinking and strategic planning and development of ideas for the real world that will live in. Start making better, positive, progressive and wise choices today, and within a week you will see pointed positive differences in your life.


Inspiration from Adversity


A few months ago I had watched Conan O Brian being interviewed by Piers Morgan on his show.  Although known for his antics and humor I like Conan for his inspirational quotes and experiences that he shares with his viewers or an audience he is asked to address. His popular address to the class of 2000 at Harvard, his 2011 Dartmouth College commencement address, or just his personal experiences and challenges have all been an inspirational and wisdom filled lessons.

Similarly, reading up several successful peoples biographies have often been a major source of inspiration to me as it has been for several others who seek to learn for other peoples experiences and struggles. As we anxiously seek to read up and learn about peoples success and learn their secrets to their individual fame and fortune, we often end up turning the last few pages of the book with a profound sense of wisdom gained and with an understanding and awe of the person for having the courage and perseverance to overcome their share of adversities and at times impossible challenges to achieve their successes. At times we also learn how their adversities changed the course of their lives to success in the form of new opportunities.

Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. ~Garth Brooks

From such knowledge we collectively learn one single and strong fact about life; that even the greatest of them all never had it easy or without problems. The road to any success for all of them have always been paved with several obstacles, hurt, pain, agony, delays,  misfortune, mistakes, blunders, and countless lessons. But with them also came, wisdom, courage, perseverance, valuable experience and amazing successes. And from learning these facts, it invariably begs the question, how ignorant or arrogant are we if we expect our success without such adversities? What makes us so special for us to expect our lives to be easier and pave our path to success with bed of roses?  Weather we expect success in our individual jobs, marriage, relationships, business, good health, sports, education, finances, parenting, or any chosen goals in life, it is almost certain that we will have to face and overcome our share of challenges.

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Facing our challenges is very similar to how a mere stone is turned into a precious diamond. From a dirty stone in mud a diamond goes through a strenuous process of cutting, bruiting, grinding, polishing, and further cutting until all its facets are carved out to dazzle everyone.  Liked wise, our share of grinding, cutting, and hardships brings out our courage, wisdom, wit, will, perseverance and determination that enables us to dazzle others by our eventual success.

You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you. ~Walt Disney

People who succeed in their lives often learn and reinvent themselves by bring about the changes that are necessary to help then achieve their ambitions and desires. They are quick to identify their faults, self improve, struggle, and get out of their comfort zone towards attaining their dreams. For they quickly learn that they will get the same results by doing the same things over and over again, and that they need to change their ways to behaviour to drive the changes they seek towards success. They do not fear committing mistakes, they do not avoid challenges or risks, they do not choose to escape from their troubles, but they stand and face them courageously, they develop solutions to their problems, they face their adversities by staring back into its eye. Greatness comes from standing up and doing the right thing regardless of the difficulties in life, they never sacrifice their morals, values, principles and righteousness. They instead draw strength from them, they differentiate themselves from others by upholding such characteristics, and they believe in their self and never give up. From the prophets (who are considered to be the chosen ones by the creator), to several kings, scientists, leaders, sportsmen and women, experts, celebrities or businessmen, inventors or politicians, each have to go their share of challenges to succeed. There is no easy path to success.  It is almost imperative and essential to gain the wisdom and experience for everyone to not only succeeded, but to be able to handle their success and manage it with humility and greatness.

If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere. ~Frank A. Clark

Alternatively those who choose to escape hardships, run away from their troubles, choose the easier options to avoid stress or risks, do not accept to make sacrifices, choose not to change for the better and take pleasure from their status quo as oppose to challenge it, often find themselves in the same place facing the same troubles time and over again. The same monotony, the familiar problems, the sweet self sympathy, and the embraced bitterness and negativity consume their lives. Every challenge remains a problem as opposed to being an opportunity to develop a solution.  Every adversity is a reason to wallow in self sympathy and depression as opposed to face it and overcome them.  The reasons to their problems become excuses and although they remain undeserving due to their lack of positive action, they become consumed by their growing false sense of self entitlement.

Much of your pain is self-chosen. ~Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, 1923

So, if you are tired of your troublesome life and the adversities you face, or have resolved to giving up on turning your life around and giving in to failure, then ask yourself what are you doing to overcome your share of adversities? None of us are any different from the other in our abilities and will to change. The difference is in our minds and choices. Everyman was just an ordinary person until they overcame their challenges to do something extraordinary and succeed. No great person or successful person has escaped life lessons and constant need to face their share of challenges and overcome them by learning new facts about life over and over again.  We live only once and life is too short in today’s fast paced and rapidly changing world. Everything we do daily changes our course and destiny. Where do you choose to be? It is your choice and nothing can stop you from getting where you want to go in our life.  When we learn to compare our troubles with those several others who face physical disabilites, health challenges, famine, war, loss of loved ones, etc, we will quickly find shame in voicing our adversities. Remember that to become a greater fighter or a tennis player, it is important to choose an opponent to practice who is better and stronger then yourself to become good. Hence learn to see your adversities as your challenging sparring partner.

The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism. ~Norman Vincent Peale


New years resolutions? Again?


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It’s once again the time to reflect upon our last few days of gluttony and happiness with some amount of guilt and a lot of happiness. Soon, if not already, you will be asked and begin thinking about your New Year’s resolution. Once again many shall dismiss the need for them while others make some with the intentions to keep. While losing weight and getting healthy will continue to be the most popular choice, getting a new job, making more money, purchasing the dream home or car and moving to a new city shall remain in the top 10. Many shall reflect upon the good and the bad they experienced this last year and some shall learn from their experiences while others shall dust them off and continue to waddle into the next year with no lessons learned.

A few blog posts ago I had written a short story about how life lessons are very similar to climbing a mountain. It was a short story of a young man learning to climb a mountain from his uncle and after having reached the top his uncle passes some words of wisdom on the experience and how similar life can be. One of the lessons in this story was about how important it is to find strong grips to hold on to and use it to pull yourself higher up. But with that, a climber also needs to learn to let go of the previous one that he or she is holding on to presently. In order to progress we have let go of the old comforting footholds and have the courage to try and step upon new and higher grounds towards the top. Also from each experience we have we gather some wisdom on which footrests and grips are stronger and reliable in order to proceed further.

When a person is drowning they often try harder and do everything they can to swim towards the bank. Similarly, while swimming one tries to put their best effort at the beginning and spend all their force and energy towards the finish line. But what if one remains consistent all through the race and continuously progress from one stride to another? Why does one have to do their best only towards the end? What would happen if one spends such wisdom, energy and efforts all through their life at everything they strive to accomplish?

It is very nice to use the New Year as a symbolic time to reflect upon the past and make plans towards the future and set out with all good intentions to achieve them. But I believe we need to do this all through the year and it should be a continuous process of self analysis and progressive development. A healthy eating plan need not be out of sheer guilt after indulging during the Christmas Holidays. It should rather be a continuous process all through the year. The same applies to any progressive development and strategies one pick up in an effort to develop and achieve in life. But all through this process we have to learn to let go of the old and move ahead. We cannot progress by holding on to our old ways, thinking, hate, prejudice, anger, or habits. The only way to move ahead is forward towards better things and higher goals in life. We need to constantly reflect upon the choices we have made and what it has brought us and then amend our thinking with realization and action towards self improvement. Building better relationships, taking the time to improve meaningful relationships, learning something new, giving up on old stubborn ego based habits, and making better choices always leads to happier endings and content life. Some of these may not be easy, and we may need to persevere and struggle to make it happen. But the rewards of such things in life are equally greater. As an example: What is the greatness in loving someone who is already in love with you. It is given that you the mutual love in itself is a reward in a way. But the real greatness is in forgiving someone you doesn’t love you and still respecting them and loving them for the good in them, regardless of what they think of you. This makes you a better person, gives you greater wisdom, respect and the rewards shall equally be greater in life.

While making a New Years resolution this time, consider making a resolution to actively indulge in self improving habits by continuously reflecting on your actions of the past and taking action towards getting better all through the year. Making new and developmental resolutions should be a daily and continuous habit to truly improve and succeed. Have a vision for self and pursue it relentlessly from the begning to the end until you accomplish it. We do it at work, we struggle to help make others visions come true, we spend out time and energy towards realizing others dreams. We need to do the same for ourselves too. We need to develop a vision, dream, develop strategies, make plans, and put it into action. Then we have to overcome obstacles, face challenges and persevere and once the goal is accomplished, move on to the next dream. From this year to the next and forever!


Steve Jobs Syndrome


“My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to make them better.” ~ Steve Jobs

Although this is an age old habit of ours, I prefer to call it the “Steve Jobs Syndrome” because it is easier to relate to in our current times.

Steve Jobs is beyond words of appreciation and talent. Certainly his wisdom, thinking and ruthless talent for making things better had left us with better technological products and a company that is lot richer than several countries. He was an inspiration for our generation and will probably continue to be for the next few. But this was Steve Jobs. He did it and did it better which gave him the kind of confidence that he could make a lot of things better. His biography tells us of his core behaviour pattern where he seemed to be very adverse of several things that were beyond his subject which he believed to be poorly designed and made. He believed that he could make all things better and improve as he did with several things that he could. But then again he carried a rare talent that was sharpened by his vast experience, contacts, persuasive skills, relationships, successful track record and financial success. There are several things he failed at as well. Things he could not improve or lost his bet on which is silenced by this achievements.

This phenomenal success story of Steve Jobs has perhaps given birth to this behaviour pattern in many individuals who seem to assume the status and believe that they too share similar intellectual traits. Yes, there are many who are as smart as Steve Jobs or even lot more than he was.  But the victims of this  “Steve Jobs Syndrome” are those who seem to carry a misconception about themselves as being able to make everything better and impose their ideas of improvement on matters that they have very little experience or information about. They think of themselves as Steve Jobs of their industry or subject. Yet they are no way as greatly successful or knowledgeable as he was about his subject.

For a mere $12.00 you can buy a ticket to sit on a comfortable seat in a movie theater and critique a multimillion dollar production probably based on a best-selling book that perhaps inspired a good part of our generation.  You can point out the mistakes, the flaws, punch hols in the story line, trash the characters played by the actors, comment on the directors ideas as though you could truly do it better. All this is done with absolutely no experience on movie making, productions, script writing, creative thinking, directions, leave alone the politics the legalities, accommodating the production companies demands, the actors demands etc. Steve Jobs also said that you “do not need to understand how the transmission works to drive a car”. But if you want to critique the driving experience while shifting gears you had better understand how a transmission works.

Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving. ~Dale Carnegie

Similarly we about our lives passing callous comments and imposing our unsolicited ideas, opinions, and suggestions on several matters that is beyond our comprehension or knowledge base. Many of us aren’t the best in what we do for ourselves in terms of earning a living. Or for that matter we aren’t the best in anything. We have failed relationships, half hearted efforts, mediocre performance, average success, average career progression, etc. Yet we have the  audacity to criticize others and their talents, and actions. It sure begs the question, “based on what knowledge?” but we quickly bury it under our inflated egos and arrogance. We criticize just because we can and there are no consequences to our ignorance and arrogance.

When we judge or criticize another person, it says nothing about that person; it merely says something about our own need to be critical. ~ Unknown

 

Can we do better? Can we truly improve things around us or have valuable suggestions and opinions? Yes! we sure can but only after being educated enough on the subject in question that earns the right to do so. You can can change the world with your opinions and thinking and move it forwrd. You too can leave a ding on this world of ours. But you need to have te knowledge, wisdom, courage, to be a Steve Jobs. And this is not done with Cynicism or criticism. You have to earn your ranks and wisdom. Hence, it is very necessary to form educated and well thought out opinions. If you care to make anything better, you better roll up your sleeves and learn this subject well. You will fail, but learn and then you may succeed and then your opinion would be valuable enough. But first master your core subjects and try being an expert in your own field. Learn by experience what it feels like to earn the right to critique someone else. We can only understand this truly when someone who knows very little about us criticizes us.

Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.
Albert Einstein

Many of us are victims of this “Steve Jobs Syndrome”. We think we know everything and interfere in matters that we have very little facts or knowledge about. You are not Steve Jobs. Often, those who are the true subject matter experts, remain quiet and watch us with amusement which we think their silence is the proof that we are right. Educated and fact based opinion is key to any persons success and positive growth. Become Steve Jobs before you act like him. Earn your voice.

 


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