Tag Archives: stress

To climb a mountain called LIFE!


“The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”

– Tom Bodett

Life provides us with many experiences. In these experiences, regardless of them being good or bad, there can be many lessons, inspirations, solutions, and wisdom one can learn from. It only takes a short moment of reflecting upon them with an intention to learn and move ahead. Similarly there are many parallels in life with certain basic things we do. Organizing our work, use clear and analytical thinking, being courteous and tolerant, and choosing our words carefully are some of the things we do at work and in our professional environment. But we seldom choose to adapt to such behavior at home and amongst our family and friends. If we choose to adapt such behaviors at home as well, we can avoid a lot of simple problems the clutter out personal lives.  Maintaining discipline, controlling anger, choosing a calm and composed demeanor, choosing the words we speak, taking a more relaxed perspective, choosing to listen more and inspire by our own behaviors are some of the key things we can apply in many different aspects of our lives. If we can apply these principles, and demeanor at work, we can do the same while playing sports, and in our personal lives, at home, amongst friends etc.

 

Experience is not what happens to a man.  It is what a man does with what happens to him.  ~Aldous Leonard Huxley, Texts and Pretexts, 1932

 

Here is a short story which helps illustrate how such parallels come together to help understand life better. It is a short story of a young man, who, like many of us has been through some tough times in life and lost his will to keep fighting to keep his sanity in this world of treachery, deception and injustice. Life is full of wonderful experiences, that give us a lot of happiness and joy, but often along with all the joy we each have our share of sorrow and pain. This short story is about an experience that changed his life.

This young man has had more than his share of sorrow over his share of happiness, but the pain and turmoil he has been through has left many a deep scars that he is unable to cope with. Corporate politics, being penalized for doing what he thought is the right thing, unable to live a life of clear-cut principles but instead having to cope and adjust to what we call the “Grey Area” under the banner of diplomacy. Deceit in friendships, and failure in love, loss of trust in people, and the faith he once had in good. Looking around he finds himself surrounded by nothing else but violence, greed, selfishness, betrayal, arrogance, ruthlessness and disorder. One can imagine the state of mind of any individual in such circumstances. Many of us have or continue to experience many of these symptoms of social integration as I like to call it. Some have faced more hardships and hurt and some few, nevertheless, which often leaves a lasting change in behavior or attitude towards normal social interactions.

Seeking some peace and perspective he turns to his parents who have tried to support him with all they could offer within their limited means and wisdom they had to share, based on their wisdom and experience. After a lot of trials and support one day his parents call him over and hand him an envelope. In it lies a round trip ticket to his uncles’ cabin located in a totally secluded part of the Rockies.

Surrounded by still lakes, lush trees and majestic mountains, lives his uncle who is a renowned Mountaineer and adventurer. Having conquered a few Mountain peaks which were named after him, he spends his summers with a few fellow adventurers in his cabin teaching people how to climb mountains or run practical classes in wild adventure trekking. He was a man of many interesting and varied experiences and a collection of even more interesting friends with varied lifestyle.

So, one day our young man arrives at his cabin with a back pack looking totally tired and beaten up. Upon setting his eyes on him, his uncle pauses and takes a gulp in shock. Seeing his favorite nephew, who was once considered to be a dashing personality filled with vigor and zest for life is now nothing more than a bundle of nerves and sorrow. Although hurt by his appearance his uncle hugs him in his usual pride and love for him concealing his displeasure, shock and dismay.

 

Turn your wounds into wisdom.  ~Oprah Winfrey

 

That night, after supper uncle and nephew have a long chat over a few drinks. The young man cries his heart out to his favorite uncle and tells him of all that he has experienced and how he has lost faith in Good, God and Justice. How he felt he was betrayed by his friends and the person he loved, and the scars he has borne. Further due to these experiences how his behavior and attitude has changed and he has become very cynical and negative as a person, which is affecting his work, social live and his loved ones at home.

Having heard in detail of his life, and feeling very sorry for what he has been through his uncle continued to ask several questions in detail and listened to him with great attention, patience and interest. It was almost past 1:00 am and his uncle told his nephew, that he wants to take him the next morning to climb a mountain that he himself has never climbed before. He said that if he would help his uncle conquer the peak which should probably take a large part of the day, he would give him a gift that would solve all his problems and sooth all his sorrow. The gift would make him a very strong and a dynamic individual and he will be able to win all that he wishes for, and in due time and live a very happy and content life by turning things around his way.

Not having climbed a mountain before and looking for something different to do, the young man agrees. He spends his reminder of the night thinking of what the gift can be? Soon his thoughts drifted to all that he can do and how wonderful his life could be once he gets this gift. The life he will live, the things he would get for himself and the life of joy that he would lead. A good long spell of escapism filled with dreams and wishes coming true all that night as he lay staring at the ceiling.

Next morning he finds his bag packed and ready for the climb. His uncle gives him a pair of pants and a light tee shirt and is all excited as this is yet another mountain he has been waiting to climb and possibly map it right, which could give him the right to name the peak yet again. Sharing his excitement the young man, joins his uncle for the hour-long drive to the foot of the mountain. On reaching there he is left speechless standing at the foot of the mountain looking at the sheer size of the rock. He and his uncle stand there for a few long minutes scaling the rock in detail. The terrain filled with rugged surface, the sharp edges, the several crevasses, the steep rise and the jagged edges. The young man thought of the near impossible task that lies ahead of him. But having faith and total confidence in his uncle, he puts on his climbing shoes and with the help of his uncle, he puts on the climbing gear. The waist harness, the pulleys, sling harnesses, the various ropes around his shoulder, and several hooks and gloves, a small hip sack with chalk and sand in it, a bottle of water, and a very heavy back pack over his shoulder filled with more hooks, ropes, first aid, spike nails, four claw shoes, hammers, etc. He felt he was carrying at least twice his weight and wondered how he will manage the ascent.

 

There is only one thing more painful than learning from experience, and that is not learning from experience.  ~Laurence J. Peter

 

The Climb

Once they were all loaded up with their equipments, they began the assent. The uncle began leading the way and shouting his instructions to his nephew as they began the accent. Look out to the left, foot hold to the right, hand hold at two 2 O’clock, etc. Since the uncle lead the climb, he was responsible to hammer the nail in the rock, grip the pulleys, run the ropes through them, assemble the hooks and continue to do so as he climbed. Quickly the young man learned the basics and was doing well. Hold on to secure grips and scale the immediate 2 to 3 foot ahead, look for secure hand holds and quick foot stops. Use his hands to lift his body with little force on his foot stops. Moving from one hand to another, and using the help of the ropes his uncle keeps dropping down he continues to climb. Every once in a while he briefly looks down and feels thrilled to see how far they have climbed, but every time he looks up he is unable to see the peak due to the slopes and curves of the rock. However, he makes good gains in his climb for a first timer and keeps getting valuable tips from his uncle. Hold on to the grip, don’t climb now, take a breather, let go of one hand and feel for a hand hold in blind, pull yourself up faster etc. Before they realized they were half way up the mountain and quiet tired. The uncle was now scaling for a rest stop which is typically a short but firm horizontal plain where the climbers could typically stand on their two feet with no hand support. Often here the climbers leave behind some supplies to reduce their weights and take a short break depending on the reminder of their climb. While the uncle tried to swing towards a rest stop side ways that he thought could work, he happened to slip and lost his grip. He now began to fall off the cliff but firmly holding on to the ropes. He knocked his elbow on the rock and kept pushing himself away from the rock every time he came near and fell several feet down very fast, but he held on to one of the ropes he had run though and began to try and break his fall by tightening the harness to the rope by which the fall ended by a quick jerk on his harness as the rope locked on. The young man felt he was done for. Several thoughts ran through his mind while watching the whole episode. He being stuck alone, loosing his uncle, his family, and the possibility of loosing his life, how will he survive etc.? But he also tried to closely watch his uncle struggle to get back to his hold on to the ropes. The sigh of relief was like never before. As the time went by his uncle managed to scale back the altitude and managed to find a rest stop for both of them. A short break was surely warranted after their near death experience.

 

A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.  ~Author Unknown

Both of them took advantage of their break by sharing a few tips, while the young man had a few questions, they decided to drop off a few of their supplies which they didn’t need for the rest of the climb and took quick notes on the points where they have had secure nails and hooks planted firmly onto the rocks. Having scaled slightly over the mid-point of the rock they were pretty confident that they will be able to make the climb before sunset. Quickly they began to ascend again.

This time the conditions were a bit harder as the edges were sharper, colder temperatures, and slippery rocks as several years of hard windy conditions have smoothened the surface. There were fewer hand and foot holds how. But there were deeper crevasses, and sharper edges. They had to rely more on their strength and agility and speed rather than the tools and equipment they had. They had to rely on their experience of the first half of the mountain to understand where the possible holds could be based on the sheer character of the mountain. There were several short and steep cliffs that they couldn’t climb and hence had to swing themselves to wide spans to look for grip holds and supports. Each swing being a dangerous one and taking all steps necessary to ensure they do not slip like earlier. Now both had to rely on each other for support as they climbed the final few feet of their mountain. One clinging to other for support and at times one carries the other person’s weight when required. Giving a helping hand to one another, and looking up towards the peak they went on to continue their mission. When they looked down they couldn’t see the foot of the hill as it was covered by haze and dust and the rocks. But the peak now was in clear view. Soon they were at the top. As the young mans uncle grasped the final sharp yet strong edge of the final peak he looked down to his nephew and said we’ve made it!

 

 

The Lesson

Yet another mountain conquered! Another tremendous feat accomplished, that only very few can accomplish in this world perhaps. It sure was an exhilarating sense of achievement that perhaps, can only be experienced by such few individuals. As they off loaded their equipments and released their harness and sat down looking around, the young man couldn’t help notice that his uncle was not jumping ecstatically of his accomplishment. But he was calm, a wide grin on his face and kept looking at his nephew and enquiring how he felt and how was the experience. Looking around, the view was something the young man had never seen before, imagined or experienced. The sky was lit in several shades of orange, blue and purple as the sun began to set. He could see a string of other mountain peaks gleaming in the riot of colors. Total silence which was almost hurting his ears. He for the first time felt and realized what it meant to have a breadth taking experience. Although every inch of his muscles was hurting and he was in pain, the sense of accomplishment and scene was worth every second of the experience. He looked over his shoulder and saw his uncle sitting beside him and thanked him for the wonderful experience. He realized that this experience will last him for the rest of his life. Then he asked his uncle what he was thinking of naming this peak.

His uncle quickly replied with a big smile on his face that he had already decided before the climb to name this peak after his dear nephew! The young man couldn’t believe what he just heard. He stood up in disbelief and began shaking his head urging his uncle to not name it after him as he has done nothing worthy of such love and recognition. His uncle assured him that he did want to name it after him and this was the gift he had told him about last night before they went to sleep.

This confused the young man. Although over whelmed by his uncles’ gesture and gift, he couldn’t understand how this could end all his turmoil and bring him all the happiness and joy he spent the night dreaming about. His uncle could see the total state of confusion in the young mans eyes and smiled. He asked him to sit down and he sat beside him. He asked the young man to listen to what he was going to tell him today at this mountain peak and try to understand it. He urged the young man to hold on to every word he was going to utter and to ponder over the greater meaning of his words. And then he went on to explain to his nephew the following:

 

Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.  ~Doug Larson

 

Life is like climbing a mountain, he said. Today, consider that you have learned a great lesson in life by climbing this mountain. Think of every single move you made and every single action of yours while climbing the mountain. This is exactly what you need to do in life if you truly want to succeed and experience true happiness, peace and sense of accomplishment as you do right now having climbed this mountain.

Life is full of crevasse, foot holds, hand holds steep ascends and sharp declines. Life is huge with several sharp edges and rugged patches. Amongst these lie our several hidden opportunities and dangers. And it is how we make use of these and how we maneuver ourselves is what makes our life a success or failure.

Let us reflect on what you did today from the very beginning. You first looked at the task on hand and wondered how big it is and how you will accomplish it. Then you took some time scanning it and studying the sheer magnitude of the task before you set out to accomplish it and then you firstly began preparing yourself for it by putting on the appropriate gear and taking up the proper equipment along. Similarly life is like this too. It’s filled with rugged surfaces, sharp edges, steep climbs and deep falls. But amongst which lies the foot and hand holds that help you climb, the gears of knowledge are at your disposal, and there is always a lot of support one can find. You will need to look for these supports, identify them, test them, and use the appropriate tools and gifts of skills that life gives you.

 

Convert difficulties into opportunities, for difficulties are divine surgeries to make you better.  ~Author Unknown
 

Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant. ~Horace

 

Each event, turn or a phase in your life is like a mountain. Be it love, work, relationships, friendships, family etc. Each is like a task, it looks like it expects too much from you, and its an enormous task, but once you take a step back and have a broader perspective of it and understand it for what it is and have a mental clear understanding of the issue at hand and most importantly you prepare yourself with the right education, knowledge, and attitude you will have a greater chance of succeeding in accomplishing it or overcoming the obstacles. Many always approach their problems with a very wrong attitude and never prepare for it properly. People, and in this case yourself, lay thinking of the life they can have, after they have succeeded in life and waste their time instead of taking the much-needed steps to achieve the task. For example, if you had slept well last night without staying up in excitement of what life would be after you get the gift you would have been lot more agile today and we could have climbed faster. People are often blinded by their instincts and emotions which prevent them from taking an objective view of the issue at hand. Some handle their problems with no proper thinking and some with no proper equipments. The hooks, harness, gloves, sand and chalk, proper shoes are very similar to knowledge, experience, life lessons, smartness, education and wisdom. And the wrong tools are limited vision, narrow-mindedness, immature thinking, cluttered mind, cynicism, negativity, anger, rage etc.

Then consider how you climbed the initial phase of the mountain. Like the mountain, life too gives you several hand holds and foot holds. It is important for you to search for them and identify the good ones from the bad. Each hold or grip is like a change and opportunity in life. You have to choose the ones that will help you get ahead in life safely, faster and on secure paths. Some are weak opportunities and some are strong. Many make bad choices in these and hence end up where they are. Be it education, path in life, career, love, friends, they are let down only if they make poor choices in these. Each of these opportunities is plenty in life, but you have to search them and choose the ones that will take you to your destination safely without letting you down. They are also like any particular short-term situation in life. Each hand hold is like a situation you experience in your life. Here you have to understand that you will have to experience it and let go of it and move on. If you hold on to your hand holds and never let go, you will never get hold of the next one, hence never go ahead in experiences. Usually it’s common in relationships, especially when in love. People hold on to broken relationships like for the longest time and never move ahead in life. They spend more time hanging on to it which was primarily their lack of wisdom or a bad choice to choose that hand hold. They tend to over analyze and hang in there in sorrow and wallowing in self sympathy. They hang on way too long and hence never go ahead or move on. Remember that you will always have to leave one for the other. Unless you let go of the hand hold first, you cannot hook on to the other and pull yourself higher. Or else you will stagnate and eventually get tired of being stuck in the same place far too long.

 

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.  ~Marcel Proust

 

Next, the ropes you used and they way you used are the few precious relationships everyone has in their lives. And these relationships are based on your good deeds, acceptance, respect for them, behavior, honesty and loyalty towards them which are like the hooks and pulleys these ropes were passed through. The better your deeds towards them, they stronger the hooks and nails are. As it’s very important to secure the nails in the rocks and the hooks and pulleys, it is equally important for you to build these relationships on strong and secure deeds honesty and integrity. After all the ropes/relations lie and depend on these. So then again, it’s in your hands how you build these relationships. Their dependability lies in your hands based on how you have securely planted the hooks and what kind of hooks and nails you have used to ensure their integrity. These very relationships are the vital life saving lines for you in your life. Like you reach out and grab on to the ropes when you fall or climb up, it is these relationships that play a similar role in your life. It’s these relationships that help you climb in your life and they are always there when you fall to help you and support you. These relationships are often found in close friends, and some family members. They last you a life time. But again it is how you build these relationships and when do you rely on them and for how long and how much. Like the ropes there is only so much weight and pressure it can take. Nothing can be taken for granted in life.

 

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, learning from failure.Colin Powell

 

In general many things in life are totally dependent on our choices, approach, attitude, planning, and execution of the plan, preparation, and commitment and in this particular order. It always begins with our choice. What do we choose to do? Like, you choose to climb the mountain today along with me. Next is the approach and attitude, even if it’s not your choice, how did you approach the task or situation? Did you step back and try to understand it? Studied the task on hand? Where you negative, positive, willing to cope and adjust, manage the situation as best as you can? Then did you plan what to do and how to do it and did you follow the plan? How did you prepare for the task? Pay attention to your back pack, which is yet another vital aspect of your life and climbing a mountain. It best compares to your education and experiences. Many of us think it’s useless or don’t pay much attention to what we are supposed to learn from it. Like the back pack, its heavy in the beginning, filled with things we need and some we don’t. But as we climb and we use these tools the back pack becomes lighter and easier to carry. Similarly, we need the experiences and education. As we go ahead in life we often use them up and often collect some new ones too. But regardless of what it is if we do not learn and use them we waste what life has given to us.

 

 

 

So, life is such. And life is very similar to climbing a mountain. Always look ahead and up towards your future and the next move up. Do not look down as your past could be too steep a fall and it’s also something you have left behind and moved on and as you continue your climb up, you loose sight of the past, but the experience always lives on. But let your past be such were you have left behind the nails and hooks and ropes which your next generation and others could use and follow. Let it be your legacy that you can be proud off. In you life as you go ahead you will find the resting places as well. Stop by, take a breather, think things out, and clear your cluttered mind. Use these breaks to reflect a little of your past and plan your next move towards your future. It’s ok to do nothing at all for a while in life, but you can’t stay there for ever, or else it will go dark and you not have the daylight to climb the mountain. Leave behind what you don’t need there, as the higher you go, you will need more wisdom than tools. Also remember you cannot do anything alone, you often have to learn from others as well. Some people live a pseudo life pretending to know it all and done it all who never truly learn. They may impress the like-minded or the uneducated people but fail to impress the wise and the accomplished. You weren’t arrogant, or too proud to learn, you took tips and learnt a lot today. Thus you were able to get ahead with some help. And lastly, when you get to the top? Don’t loose your character. Be humble and modest about yourself. People who celebrate wildly at the top of the peak often loose their balance and fall back down. The peak is very narrow and just enough to plant your accomplishments which others can follow and learn from. Now this is my gift to you. Hope you will cherish this experience and carry the credit of this peak and your name associated to it with humility and pride as well. I would want you to share what you have learnt with others and use what you have learnt today for the rest of your life. By doing so I assure you that many of your concerns will end and you will begin to live a life with more caution but yet with more happiness, accomplishments and success. Let this Mountain of experience take you to your peak in life and set a path that many others can follow.

 

Wisdom begins at the end.  ~Daniel Webster

 

With these profound words and the experience the young mans life changed that very moment. He sat there and watched the sun set as he recollected every single experience he gained today and was clinging on to every single word his uncle told him. He then decided to set his past down and begin tomorrow with a renewed vigor and use this wonderful experience he gained this day as a lesson about life.

Such are many profound lessons one can learn from simple experiences in life. Perhaps this story will help many of us to rethink our lives and experiences and help us make better choices, and draw some strength from the lessons this young man learned. Life is very similar to climbing a Mountain. There may be some mountain we need to climb again, but we have to persevere until we conquer the peak!


An “Opportunity” to Success!


 

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When written in Chinese the word “crisis” is composed of two characters – one represents danger and the other represents opportunity. ~John F. Kennedy, address, 12 April 1959

 

Maher sits at the edge of the bench that is situated right beside the platform of the train he intends to board. Bags packed, vigilant, one foot stretched and the other partly folded under his bench on its toes he awaits. He has done this many times before, and he shall do it again. But only this time he is determined to make it. No is not going to take any chances this time around. He has used up all his excuses and tired of missing his train in the overly crowded platform where every single person awaits with the same determination to get on this train.

 

He has been pushed, punched, elbowed, cheated, stepped on, tripped, trampled upon, tricked and delayed while trying to get on this particular train. He has met the cowards, the ruthless, the greedy, the inconsiderate, the cold hearted, the rude, the intimidating and the friendly that stabbed his back at this platform. But today he draws his strength from the wisdom gained from all that he has met and experienced.  He has thought out his path to the door of the train very well. He now will combine the tactics of all those he met and avoid all the things that has happened to him in the past by using his wit and execute his well thought out and rehearsed plan to get on this train this time.

 

Yes there are millions at this platform daily and each waiting to get on this train or the next one that comes by again in a while. But today it is Maher’s turn. He intended to get on this train. If he does miss it again, he shall learn again from his mistake, and will avoid yet another hurdle that will stop him from getting aboard. But he is poised, vigilant, eyes on the tracks, senses heightened and in tune with all who surround him. He understands that every person around him also intended to get to this destination desperately, just as he does. But not everyone around him has had the fortune to have the experience he has gotten in the several  times he missed this train. The several early mornings he has woken up to get on this train, the sleepless nights he has spent analyzing his experiences, the hundreds and thousands of faces and kinds of people he has seen at this platform and the thoughts of techniques and ways these people have used to get on this train are the chips he holds today. He is going to cash them all in when the train arrives today.  This is the train called “Opportunity” after all, and is heading to destination “success”. Of course, everyone wants to get on board, and everyone has got their ticket, but if only a ticket is all you needed to get on this train. It comes every so often without fail. But it isn’t easy to get on board. After all, it is the train called “opportunity”!

 

The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes. ~Benjamin Disraeli

So, where are you?  Are you at this station? Are you on the right platform? Are you on time? Maher seems to have got the experience and the wisdom he needs to get on board. He is determined and awaits the train. All poised, planned, vigilant and ready. Are you there beside him? If you want to get to success, here comes “Opportunity”.

 

It is often hard to distinguish between the hard knocks in life and those of opportunity. ~Frederick Phillips

 

No matter what you do or where you are. No matter what you want to succeed in. Be it love, relationships, work, business, school, sports, or in life in whole. When opportunity arrives, you better be ready to get on board. Just a ticket you hold is not enough. It only get you to the platform where the train arrives. All the adversities and the misfortune are absolutely essential for you to get ahead of the line and get close to the door when the train arrives. Draw strength and learn from them as opposed to indulging in vain thoughts of why and wasting time in revenge. Instead, move ahead, there may be many more kids of people and experiences you may have to face before you avail the opportunity. This train leaves full. Almost everyone who have got on it have faced their share of hardships. Some handled it with grace, some with courage, some with smarts, and some with wit. Those who didn’t and succumbed their share of hardships, are still learning and are there on the platform awaiting their next train and some of them have given up and returned home. But there are those who got on this train by means that are despicable and at the cost of other innocent peoples goodness. But although they got on this train of opportunity, they may never get to the destination “Success” for they will be thrown away from the train or be forced to jump out by those righteous other people on the train.

 

Nothing is so often irretrievably missed as a daily opportunity. ~Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

 

Success doesn’t come easy. Yet everyone has a ticket to the train called “opportunity” that takes you there. The challenge is be at the station on time, determined to get to the front of the door with your bags packed with the credentials, with gathered experience, wisdom, and a strategy to get on board, and vigilant, aware and poised and ready to avail the opportunity. If you happen to miss this one, like many others do and did at this platform every day, you can wait for the next one. And it will come, keep the faith!

Opportunity is a parade. Even as one chance passes, the next is a fife and drum echoing in the distance. ~Robert Brault

 

Remember that  we get our share of opportunities daily. They may not be the opportunity that we are eagerly waiting for, but they can surely be an opportunity for other great things in life. An opportunity to help someone, learn something new, do a great deed, do something different, invent, innovate, develop a solution to a problem, build a relationship, fix a broken one, get healthy, show someone you care and love, forgive someone, or just become a better person. Availing such several small opportunities will only make you prepared for the next and eventually the big one you have been waiting for. Also remember that all the hardships you face along the way are also often opportunities in life. A divorce helps you end a bad relationship and creates an opportunity to seek and build a much happier life in future, a job loss allows you to get out of your comfort zone of daily mundane monotony and seek a better paying and challenging opportunity, a failure in a project is only an opportunity to amend your mistakes, solve the problems and try again to make it better next time. Every failure is only an opportunity to succeed the next time around by becoming stronger and prepared.

 

Jumping at several small opportunities may get us there more quickly than waiting for one big one to come along. ~Hugh Allen

 

 

 


Awaken your Conscience – the beginning to happiness and success


 

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The strange thing about us human beings is that we often spend a lot of time and energy searching for ideas, and answers which often are found within ourselves. Many blame the world and everything they can and some often find their answers within. One of the most important answer we often seem to seek is: if we are doing the right thing? Or is what we are doing good for us? And as many accomplished and successful people have pointed out based on their own experiences: “listen to your inner voice or gut feeling”. Somehow this inner voice seems to know all the right answers and helps guide you often to the right things in life. And when we do something wrong it begins to eat us up from inside with guilt. But this inner voice is only heard if one pays attention and takes the effort to query or listen to it. And it only works if you take the necessary positive actions to do the right thing. This magical phenomenon that all of us have been gifted with is almost like a divine compass called Conscience. Like all the greatest gifts that we have Conscience is also another intangible and immeasurable possession like love, feelings, thinking etc.

Conscience is often found as a feeling of remorse when a human being commits actions that go against his or her moral values and beliefs. Conscience is like an aptitude, intuition or judgment of our thoughts and behaviours that distinguishes right from wrong. And us humans are asked to invoke this conscience universally through all religious belief systems and by means of any basic intellectual norms.

The word “conscience” is derived from the Latin word conscientia, meaning “privity of knowledge” or “with-knowledge”. The English word implies internal awareness of a moral standard in the mind concerning the quality of one’s motives, as well as a consciousness of our own actions. Conscience may be defined as the practical reason employed when applying moral convictions to a situation The many philosophers, or saints often ask to invoke our conscience to develop it, as they themselves do through daily contemplation or meditation combined with selfless service to others. Such developed state of conscience helps create a strong sense of intuitive insight or revelation to many. This helps a person to use their intellect towards positive and humane causes, pursue further knowledge, be self critical with the focus of self improvement and on a general level apply fair justice in his or her life.  

Yet we, the most developed and gifted species choose to live by killing our own conscience. Our pride, ego, anger and prejudice help us do things against our very own conscience until it is too late. The sad fact is that while one does things that go against their own moral values or beliefs, the conscience keep telling them that it is wrong. Once we do things against our conscience and fail, our conscience begins to hurt us with the feeling of severe guilt. But instead of taking the necessary positive steps to undo the damage many still continue to stifle this inner voice with rage and anger or drown it in intoxication.  We the intelligent, civilized and knowledgeable species choose such.

It is plain common sense that many of our personal and worlds’ ills are result of actions in rage and blind fury. The things we say to hurt others, the things we do to hurt others and ourselves, the greed we posses, the prejudice we hold, the disrespect we show are some of the things we do often against our conscience. The violent killings, the communal  riots, steeling, damaging things, wars, or theft are all things that people do against their basic human moral values and beliefs.

But this gift of conscience is a wonderful thing. It is the conscience that makes the individual set out to accomplish great feats and do the impossible, it makes people charitable, invokes the wealthy to become philanthropists, invokes love, compassion, and righteousness. It makes us become better people, do greater things in life, and helps us succeed.

Some quotes on Conscience:  

 

Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it.
Albert Einstein

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
Thomas Jefferson

The human voice can never reach the distance that is covered by the still small voice of conscience.
Mohandas Gandhi

All credibility, all good conscience, all evidence of truth come only from the senses.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.
George Washington

I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.
Leonardo da Vinci

Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, something is out of tune.
Carl Jung

War is so unjust and ugly that all who wage it must try to stifle the voice of conscience within themselves.
Leo Tolstoy

When freedom does not have a purpose, when it does not wish to know anything about the rule of law engraved in the hearts of men and women, when it does not listen to the voice of conscience, it turns against humanity and society.
Pope John Paul II

 

Development of Conscience:

Most people live with a self conceived idea and parameters of morality. It may be okay to lie a little but not to deceive or they may be comfortable to speak just to the advantages of doing something but choose to hide the negatives. But in general terms there is limit to who they choose to do and what they do not based on their moral values and comfort. These limits they choose change though time based on their individual experiences, social pressures and norms, or communal rituals and belief systems. But the conscience within eventually brings about a sense of balance as an individual evolves. But until such time the turmoil one can endure often affects their success and happiness in life.

So, how can one develop sound and balanced approach towards nurturing their conscience and morality to live a happy, content, and successful and guilt free life?

There are several theories based on studies of set groups. But it takes some honest self criticism and the will to self develop to come up with some key objectives:

1)      One needs to see the need to self develop and the need to adhere to balanced and just moral values and conduct. This in turn helps develop their inner conscience on sound principles which will allow them to do what is right and make them feel bad when they go against it.

2)      Fair judgement on balanced opinions and values. This can be practiced by not immediately reacting to any given situation. Exercising calm and some thinking can always help take a positive approach towards issues at hand. This becomes crucial to control haste and anger where patience and understanding would be more valuable.

3)      Respect and Equality for one and all. This would avoid people holding prejudice and tame ones ego. People who do not practice this often continue to live a life of arrogance, and self indulgence at the cost of other people’s happiness, self respect and peace. But they also live a life of continuous fight against their inner guilt and general level of discontent about everything in life.

Life is too short to waste time over petty behaviours and toiling in guilt. Many of our ills and unhappiness are out of our own choices and actions in life which are often against out very one divine gift called conscience. Awaken your conscience, live happier and become successful based on moral and balanced conscience!


The right choice is often a difficult path


The right choice is often a difficult path

 

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.

Choice: 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.

Our life essentially is nothing but a collective result of the choices we have made along the way. There 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. 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 easy from hard and sadly the hard ends up being the right one to choose. The righteous and 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.

Before I was sent to England for schooling, my oldest brother sat me down and gave me a few valuable tips on what to expect and how to cope in a boarding school, new country, and above all how to uphold my dignity and self-respect. He always had a profound way to deliver his advice which would stick like a note with a board pin into my brain. His advises, as I can recall, always puts butterflies in my stomach and makes me smile as he would start off in all seriousness and end up with a hilarious one-liner and a smile. He told me about how friendships should be an equal relationship, how to take pride of who I am and uphold our decency, how to learn from my mistakes etc.  Among a barrage of things he threw at me that day over lunch he mentioned to me that there will be every vice, temptation, and choices of right and wrong thrown at me in my life as I go on. But, what makes one into a fine man or a failure, are the choices he makes and actions he takes once his choice has been made.

I was 17 then and I remember it was a Wednesday. Quiz day in Physics every Wednesday, first lesson in the morning. I wasn’t prepared, totally clueless and dumb as a needle on the subject that week. Perhaps my heart was too tangled in my dreams of falling in love with the amazingly new cute girl who helps out at our daily lunch hall. Anyways, as soon as our teacher came in, he passed out our question paper and told us that he will be very disappointed with anyone who will get less than 90% in this weekly quiz as it was one of his easier ones. Translated it means as follows: “It’s a tough paper, as it has just one question which clearly involves a lot of calculations. Should you get less than 90% he will put in a good word in our principal’s ear about our performance.” Having distributed the question paper and made his statement, he gave us 45 minutes to finish and he walked out of the class room.

The moment he walked out. There was the usual yet typical mumbling, cursing and looking at each others face for a few moments. Then one of us boldly walked up to the door stuck his neck out to see if our teacher wasn’t close by, and shut it back firmly and walked back to his desk. Quickly, almost everyone flipped out their text books and began to answer the equation precisely and fast. I looked around in amazement as I saw my buddies scribble away in a frenzy like they were writing their wish lists for toys and girls. I too had my text book with me, but I was thinking if I should or shouldn’t follow suit. And just then I remembered my power of choice and should my poor choice get the best of me, how will I let down my dearest brother’s aspiration about me. So, I sat there and stuck to my choice and decision to do the right thing and not cheat. My closest buddy glanced at me and asked me what was wrong? He quickly offered his text book to me to follow suit. I politely refused. He called me an idiot and nodded his head in disgust and disbelief. I sat through for 45 minutes and tried working out some other equation I knew as practice on a piece of paper. The teacher came back and collected everyone papers and took off again. 

Next morning I was at the center meeting hall in school where all students gather to grab their mug of coffee or tea before the classes begin. I knew I was going to be embarrassed and humiliated in my Physics class just before our first break. So I was being quiet and already being embarrassed of my upcoming doom. And before I realized, as all bad things do, the hour was upon my head. I dragged my foot from one class to another and planning out how I will react and how will other classmates react at the meeting hall soon after the class and spread the news about the scores to everyone in school. Particularly, how my score will be announced by our ever so sarcastic teacher in his classic British humor with a snide remark that will make everyone laugh. 

After all of us sat down and there was this impatient silence for a bit for the scores, our teacher called out my name first. I stood up with my chin stuck to my chest. He said I was the only student who passed the quiz and the rest failed. He further went on to say that if anyone disagreed with his scoring they were free to talk to the principal about it. For a moment I took it as his first sarcastic jab. I waited for a few more seconds for the next. But no one else reacted, and he asked me to sit down and continued with that day’s lesson. No one questioned his scores due to their guilt and I sat there feeling silly but yet still unsure of his decision. At the end of the class, he walked up to me as I was leaving the door, and said, he was extremely proud of my decision not to cheat and offered to tutor me after class if I needed any help in his subject as he was pleased to have a student with such honesty and integrity in his class.

During the break at the main meeting hall, my class mates walked up to me and shook my hand and said they had a lot of respect for me and my decision. They also went on to share this news with their other school mates. I was approached by other fellow school mates who heard about this and shook my hands and expressed their appreciation. And I was amazed to see how a simple choice to do the right thing could have such an amazing impact. I couldn’t help but think of what I had expected of my choice earlier that morning and what it had turned out to be. It was an experience that I still am very proud off till date. And it was an experience that thought me and reaffirmed what my brother had told me about choice. “What makes one into a fine man or a failure, are the choices he makes and actions he takes once that choice is made”.

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 life. 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.

Here are some chosen inspirational quotes from some well-known people, that helps understand the power of choice:

 “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)

 “You and I are essentially infinite choice-makers. In every moment of our existence, we are in the that field of possibilities where we have access to an infinity of choices.” – Deepak Chopra (1946-…, physician and author of The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success)

 “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)

 “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)

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

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

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

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, a jar 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 often these wonderful choices for many are bigger problems than convenience or luxury.

One key factor that disturbs me most is the choice and decision of young kids today. They are very quick to choose, decide and almost demand the best and often most expensive when it comes to their clothes, video game units, laptops, mobile phones, and girl or boy friends. But in their most vital and formative age of life they deliberately choose the most vain, aimless, lazy, and easy way out of them, including education, profession and future. They either, opt out of school, defer university entrance, choose other vain interests over scoring good grades at school, learn, aim for an easy degree to graduate in, or a comparatively lower ambition in life when they have a choice to do better. This way they dwell in a world where mediocrity is considered the norm. They do not choose to get the best of grades, make it to the best of universities, get the best of professional qualifications, excel and specialize in their professional qualifications, get the best of jobs and live the best of lives.

I do not mean that everyone has to be successful or be the top achiever in life although each truly carries the ability and can if they wanted. Being ordinary, mediocre is fine as well, but only if you can be happy and do not eventually become bitter of your own choices in the future. Often such individuals who make deliberate poor choices in life often seek the easy way out continue to take poor decisions that end them up assimilating a string of bad experiences, and resulting consequences due to their poor state of living. They will rather choose to get a fat loan or more than affordable car whether they have the means to fill the gas to run it or not. Some choose to spend their parents earnings on their cell phone bills and but never on a clean pair of jeans or clothes. They will choose to take advice and rest on the opinion of some half baked, semi-educated, councilor or a “friend” who will encourage dropping off from school and taking a hike across the country or to another country, smoke weed and have fun or get into a get rich quick dot.com business or buying their share of the pyramid scheme they themselves got suckered into. But they will hardly choose the advice of their selfless, hard-working, sacrificing and extremely caring parents and well-wishers who will often be willing to support their ambition with the best quality of education, universities, and help along the way by paying off their tuition fees as opposed to bank loans, get them a vehicle, give them a house to stay, etc.  I once was told that a person will invariably choose the best and eventually become very successful in life, if he or she is given only the best option as the only and last option to choose from. I guess is has become even more essential to educate todays’ youths on the realities of life and the consequences of human choices. Especially to help them from chasing unrealistic dreams such as the numerous pyramid or other get rich quick schemes with very little efforts. They need to be educated of the resulting proven consequences of better choices and to indulge in creative thinking and strategic planning and development of ideas for the real world that will help them succeed.

Educated and quality choices about self, others, life, and character will only result in success, happier life and great achievement!


The power of YOU! Your true worth and purpose in life.


Many people have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. ~ Helen Keller

We are people who constantly endeavor in a firm mission to make our life worth while and with purpose. Every living hour of interaction with other people, nature and life is merely a process of brining purpose to our action in which we seek some satisfaction of self. Thus it is very important for each of us to realize and question our purpose in almost every aspect of our life. What is the true purpose for our respective lives? What is the fundamental purpose to work? What is the purpose of marriage? Or most importantly, what purpose do we fulfill in another persons life?

Every one of us have been created uniquely with unique skills, capabilities, thought processes, and characters. But finding the unique purpose that we will full fill is something that we have to seek, develop and accomplish ourselves. No one is going to do it for us. In order for us to understand this we first need to realize the power of our individual influence.

The world of tomorrow, and the people who will live then, will live a life that has been shaped by the actions we take today. We know this too well because we ourselves life a life of the actions and steps taken by our ancestors. Similarly, we live our life today which is highly influenced by a hand full of individuals who made great contributions, inventions and discoveries. The moment we realize this simple fact and make a choice to exercise our existence to make a good influence to humanity we find purpose.

Only a life lived for others is the life worthwhile. ~ Albert Einstein

We unknowingly often fulfill many purposed in other people’s lives. For example: we fulfill the purpose of being an adviser when one seeks this from us, we fulfill the purpose of being a friend when people need us, we fulfill the purpose of being an mentor to those who look up to us for guidance. We also influence the world around us by our choices, purpose and reactions. Hence we must make good of our purpose and ensure that it aimed towards a noble cause.

How we think, process any given information, make our choices and react is unique to us. And this shapes our world around us. We influence people and many other greater things in life by these unique and individual reactions and choices. This individual identity of ours fulfills a unique purpose in life. We matter. Our actions matter. And hence it is important to improve our actions and reactions constantly to make a better and good impact on our life and world.

There comes a special moment in everyone’s life, a moment for which that person was born. That special opportunity, when he seizes it, will fulfill his mission – a mission for which he is uniquely qualified. In that moment, he finds greatness. It is his finest hour. ~ Sir Winston Churchill

You can make a unique difference.

You matter!

Remember that your actions and purpose has greater significance in many other people’s lives!

Your contributions to mankind, world, family, and evryone you touched in your life are the only things that show your true worth and character. These are the only things that make your life worthwhile and it begins with you!

 Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. ~ Steve Jobs


Personality Progressive Development


 

 

Yes, personality has external and other factors that determine it. Heredity, our respective external environment, personal experiences and specific circumstances have a bearing on our respective individual personalities. However, other than heredity, we as humans can exercise your power to choose and think to make the changes we need to our personalities as opposed to blaming other factors. As we grow older, gain maturity, develop our own beliefs, opinions, ability to think, ability to differentiate between good and bad, ability to choose and disregard, we can make the much-needed developments to make ourselves better human beings in the process. As we all know that personality always changes over time and based on individual experiences, we can surely choose to make these experiences and time to shape ourselves as better individuals. It is easy to blame our faults and lack of ability to progressively evolve into better human beings, but it is imperative for us to take ownership of our own good and change our personalities for the better.  

Here are some ideas to help build a positive personality. Following these can and will help you become more popular, likeable, loveable, and impact your life very positively:

Identify yourself first: Be reasonably self-analytical and critical. Compare yourself to an ideal personality you seek to become and ask yourself why that personality. Identify areas you need to develop or improve. Try to understand who you really are, where do you come from, and what are the good and bad morals and values of who you truly are.

Recognize the need for improvement and progress: Realize your pitfalls and mistakes. List areas of improvement and development needed. See where you what to be, how do you want to be, how do you want people to see you as. And in doing so, ensure you are being realistic and are aiming for honest, moral and positive attributes.

Learn willingly and openly: Learn from others, pick their goodness and good wisdom, and reject their bad habits and beliefs. Search for good sources to learn from all and every experience from your life. Don’t reject anyone or any things you can learn from. Wise wisdom can be found in any place from anyone, so can immoral aspects. Choose the good and keep learning.

Take charge and responsibility: Know that you have the capability and courage to become who you want. Be determined and take charge of your own development. Not doing anything will not get you anywhere. So, become responsible and a confident individual.

Be genuine and honest: Be honest in your efforts. Be honest to self and be honest with others. Your honesty is clearly visible. Do not take others for fools and assume they can’t see your dishonesty. If people do not react it doesn’t mean they believe you. Your honest is very clearly visible in your actions, deeds, and words.

Be considerate and polite: Develop basic skills to behave, talk, act and think in a considerate and polite manner. By respectful of others before you expect them to show these attributes to you.

Follow through your commitments: When you give your word or commit to something, be bold, courageous and honorable enough to follow through with your actions. Weather it is in a relationship or work, one has to learn the value of integrity and consequences of misleading someone and having them pin their hopes, desires, wishes and emotions to their commitment. A person, who doesn’t stand by their word and follow through in actions, will never be able to find true happiness or respect within or from others. 

Be selective and aware of your choice of words: Use positive words always. Speak softly, yet clearly and firmly. Think of sentences and words before you speak to avoid misunderstandings. Use kind and eloquent words when and where possible. Control your voice when you speak. Be aware and respectful of your surroundings. Think how you are coming across to your audience.

Be sensible with criticism: Do not criticize. You may casually be critical amongst your close friends and family, but be aware there is a limit there too. If people laugh along with you it doesn’t mean they approve of your criticism. And remember that there is only a fine line between criticism, condemnation and character assassination.

Be a good listener: One of the key factors is to be a good listener. Learn to be patient, show genuine interest, look them in the eye, and truly listen to what they are saying to you. Ask questions, don’t interrupt, and be considerate.

Motivate and Inspire: Speak words and act in a manner that inspires others and motivates others to become positive and be happier. I call this putting butterflies in their stomachs. Say things to help others that make sense and makes then smile and ticklish in their stomach. Positive words with a smile, smell good, dress good, walk tall, etc.

Recognize Good and appreciate it: If you recognize and appreciate a good behavior in a person, it makes the other person repeat this particular behavior more. When you see good, walk up to this person and express your appreciation. You there by build their confidence and boost their positive behavior.

Be generous and helpful and expect nothing in return: Help others generously. Help by sharing knowledge, teach, share wealth with the poor, share your wisdom, your experiences, share your goodness. And do it with humility by understanding you too take and need others help in life. And do it freely as a good human being and expect nothing in return.

Be humble and grateful: Thank people, give away your ego in exchange for gratefulness. Be nice, and do not show off. Let yourself be known by your character and class. Not as a shameless and cheap loud mouth.

Be honorable and loyal: Keep your, morals, values, principles and honor intact. People will learn to depend on you based on these virtues.

Carry a great sense of humor: This one attribute will help you sail through any problems, complexities, stress and relationships. Take a lighter look at situations and learn to see the funnier side of things. Laugh at them and share the laughter. Learn to laugh at yourself.

Don’t procrastinate: Daily make it a habit to list things, then prioritize them and aim to complete the top three at least in a given day always. This will eventually give you a tremendous sense of accomplishment and impact your attitude positively.

Take care of your appearance: Don’t become careless and disregard your appearance. Always aim to look good, maintain good hygiene, appear to be clean, smell good, dress well, etc. Take care of your health, weight, and appearance.

Earn Respect: Don’t expect people to respect your title, age or gender. Earn their respect by behaving in a manner that contributes to your title, age gender etc. Earn the right to give advice, comment, or speak. Give respect before you expect it from others. And command respect by your behavior, do not shamelessly demand it when you do not get any.

Become a better Human being as well. Or more importantly be a human being that makes others what to be like you. Be able to respect yourself and see how you come across as a person and an individual to the world around you. Here are a few perspective I like to share to become a good human being first:

  • Love everyone regardless of caste, religion, creed, color, country or culture but for the good in them. The will love you back for the same reasons.
  • Strive to become a moral and responsible individual.
  • Respect all as well and above all do not be critical of the differences. They will reciprocate in the same manner towards you.
  • Be honest to self first. You will be rewarded and others will respect you for that.
  • Build character by actions and deeds, and not by words. You will inspire others and your loved ones by this.
  • You will find common ground with every person you meet if you want to. But you should be willing to communicate and be approachable.
  • Establish your identity by character. Not by your skin color, culture or religion. You will win the love, respect and appreciation of all people you meet all through your life.
  • Take pride in who you are and what you are made of. If you don’t respect yourself, your culture or religion, others will not respect these either.
  • Don’t build a pseudo personality in order to pretend to be affiliated to a popular group or a person to win their love and respect. Real people can see through it. And you eventually will find yourself to be lonely as your pretentious guard will one day fall.
  • Learn and be self-critical! Do not be so pig-headed that you never improve yourself and deteriorate over time in knowledge and wisdom.
  • Lastly, please take time to appreciate what you like in others. It’s a simple phenomenon. The more you appreciate what you liked in one person, the more that person feels like giving it to you and others.

 


Million Dollar Business Idea?


 

No, this is not another pyramid scheme. Neither is this a get rich quick idea.

Everyone seems to have an idea or two to make money other than working as an employee for someone else. And there are many who have the grit and will to put it in action. But not everyone succeeds. And there are many who aspire but never wish to perspire to achieve their dreams. Often there are many obstacles, circumstances, and situations in life that does not allow the time or the energy to pursue such dreams. But, these dreams live on.

There are many valid business ideas that could make a million dollars that get buried in these clutter of unfulfilled dreams and ambitions. With various reasons that hinders or stops one from achieving these dreams there is one big factor that prevails. Failure! The fear of investing their money, time and life in an idea that could fail stops many from going ahead. But, having said that, it is also perhaps one of the easiest of factors to overcome. Here I wish to discuss a few simple concepts in the process of developing the fairly secure million dollar idea that would earn you a million dollars.

*** 

The million dollar dream building:

For ease of understanding, I am breaking this down to the simplest form based on the basic principles of marketing that would help conceive the concept:

The Million Dollar Math:

To make $10,00,000 one needs to understand this in exact numbers. You need to first have a very clear understanding how this million dollar is actually broken down in terms of units/service  (referred to as a “product” here on), and consumers.

A million dollars in other words is ten hundred thousands. That is: $10, 00, 000.

If you wish to make a million dollars for yourself, you will have to sell a product a million times with a $1 profit per unit sold. Simple?

So, if you have a $100 profit margin, then you will have to sell your product only a 10,000 times (ten thousand).

A higher the profit margin, lowers the units to be sold. Remember that this unit could be a tangible product, or a service.

Once you understand this, all you have to do is develop the right product/service and back it with a sound marketing plan. A very good and valuable product with its unique feature at a fair market price based on the target buyers’ affordability will sell. In other words, if you were that target customer, will you buy it and why? As simple as that! In order to make this happen, you will need to know a few simple concepts of marketing. Below are a few simplified yet essential features of a marketing plan.

The Product:

This is where it is all about you, your skills, creativity and interest. However it is extremely important to keep the user of the product you develop in clear focus and the true “need” or “use” of the product to the end user. While developing the idea of this product one needs to consider these five common things:

  • What will the potential buyer want or need this product for?
  • Why will this potential buyer buy this product?
  • What are the key characteristics of these potential buyers demographics? That is, what is the typical age group, sex, income, affordability, lifestyle, culture, where they live, etc.
  • Does your product fulfill a need or a want?
  • And are there similar products already there in the market place. If you do not see it, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. A little honest research is very essential.

Next you need to understand the product in detail. The workings of it, the design, the use, the looks, appearance, etc. You need to know your product or service in-depth. You should aim to become a subject matter expert in that product to be safe.

You also need to understand the market and industry of the product or service. You need to study the actual worth of the product. Look for examples of similar products. Understand and learn how they work, why they are priced as such, how they are sold, who buys them etc. You also need to constantly ask yourself why will anyone buy your product or service. What is unique about your product that will compel a buyer to buy your offering from the other seller?

For example: If you think it is a brilliant idea to start-up another On-line Home Rental service offering, where home owners can advertise their rental property and prospective renters can search and rent homes, how does it compare?

  • What will you offer differently compared to the other players?
  • What will be unique about your service?
  • Is that unique offering enticing enough for the consumer to shift their loyalty?
  • How many potential renters are there in your city?
  • How many rental homes are there in your city?
  • What percentage of people go on-line to search rental property from the potential renters?
  • How many such on-line sites are there and how many listings are there per site?
  • Is there room for another player?

These are some question one needs to ask and study when developing a product or service.

The Price:

Disposable shaving sticks with blades are cheaper in price and sold in packs with multiple units. But, the individual shaving sticks, from the same manufacturer, comes with few blades. And the user will have to buy the blades separately which are often more expensive than the shaving sticks. Yet there are consumers who choose to buy the individual shaving sticks and blades separately and willingly pay more for the negligible shaving comfort. So the question is, who is your target customer? The one who wants to save money, or the one who is will to pay more? Remember the million dollar math. Higher the profit margin, lower the units to be sold.

You will also need the actual and real cost to market or serve. This means what will it cost you to manufacture this product and bring it to the stage where the potential user/buyer will make the purchase. These typically involves these common costs to consider:

  • Cost to develop and make the product
  • Cost to package and make the product look desirable
  • Cost to sell it (marketing, selling staff, advertising, etc.)
  • Cost to deliver (transporting to the place of sale or the customer)
  • Over head costs (staff salaries, real estate-rent, utilities etc)

Now once these costs are detailed add-on a realistic profit margin to it. Do not be greedy and over price it, or do not make it too cheap and decrease its value. The price is based on what the target consumer is willing to pay for the product or service based on the value it has for them. It is called “fair market value” or FMV. It simply means that, it is a price a knowledgeable and fair potential buyer will be willing pay for the product or service you offer.   

 

The place you sell or do business in:

I love food. I enjoy all kinds of food, such as Japanese, Arabic, Italian, Indian, Chinese, etc. Hence I love to cook. I can get any recipes from books, Television, internet and my wonderful sister in-laws ultra fantastic recipes and create some amazing and delicious food. But I hate cleaning up. Perhaps that is why many of us choose to get food delivered home. And every once in a while, we choose to go and dine out. Although, we can make many good and great dishes ourselves at home, we choose to go out and pay for it. We opt to dine out, have someone cook some great creations, and serve it to us. And we will pay a price that we fully well are aware is at least 200% more than the cost of it and still leave behind a handsome tip to the waiter. And we do all this for the “experience”!

I walk into several restaurants and wonder why did they even bother? The décor is at best drab, the tables/furniture pretty bare, service is just short of being shot at, and often the food is worse than what I can make if I were drunk out of my senses. And to add to this condition, if one dares to jump over the fence of baffling curiosity and converse with the owner of this business, they will unwaveringly express their disappointment at their customers. They will blame the market, economy, the government, culture, weather, and the dog at their home but never themselves or the state of their place of business.

One of the essential parts to a successful business is its location. Where do you sell your products or service? Is it on-line, is it in a business district, does it have customer parking, does it have a steady or good flow of your target customers, or is your product sold at a retail location, does it have a prominent shelf space etc. These are some of the things you seriously need to consider.

Always remember that the environment or atmosphere usually has a huge impact on the business. There is a very good reason for the kids of music that is played in a supermarket, a fashion retail outlet or in a hotel elevator. Which begs the question, why do some Indian restaurants play sad and depressing music? It usually kills my appetite.

How will you promote your business?

How will you make the customer come to you, see your product or service and make the purchase now? How fast do you want to make your million dollars? Will a one dollar a day pace suffice or do you have a fixed time frame to make your first million dollars? If so, how will you sell those units within that time frame?

There are several creative ways to do this. But no matter how you plan to do this, and come up with new ingenious ideas or traditionally proven methods, you will always have to keep asking yourself this; why will the customer buy from me? Or, put yourself in the customer’s shoes and see if your promotional idea invokes you to make the purchase. Until the numbers shows in sales, keep developing these ideas. Whether it is a free promotional offer, a special discount, a limited time offer, a free gift, it has to make sense to the buyer.  

I remember a Photography Film Processing Lab not so long ago before the digital photography industry killed their business. The owner of this lab came up with a new and different idea to promote his business. He bought a consignment of promotional products from a liquidation dealer. And he charged $0.50 cents more per print to process a film roll and would give each customer a random number to pick. Based on the number the customer could win anything from a key chain, to a television. His store will packed with these floor to ceiling promotional goods and a beeline of customer all through the mall. 3 months later the promotion died, but the beeline lasted a few good years.

Similarly, you would buy your child a Kids meal at McDonald’s knowing that they won’t eat the food, but the free toy will shut them up for a while.

That’s promotion in a nutshell.

 

 So, what is your Million Dollar Idea?

It doesn’t have to be what everyone does, or something that has never been done before. It has to be good, realistic, and positioned appropriately. More than anything else, you will have to believe in it based on realistic numbers and research.  There are several brilliant products and services that were once laughed at or criticized but is one of the most successful ideas or products in today’s world. A personal computer in every house was once such a dream of a famous individual. Build your million dollar dream and make it happen!

 

Some select Quotes to remember!

 

And while the law of competition may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it ensures the survival of the fittest in every department.
Andrew Carnegie

As a small businessperson, you have no greater leverage than the truth.
John Greenleaf Whittier

Do more than is required. What is the distance between someone who achieves their goals consistently and those who spend their lives and careers merely following? The extra mile.
Gary Ryan Blair

Do not trust people. They are capable of greatness.
Stanislaw Lem

Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.
Howard Aiken

Every young man would do well to remember that all successful business stands on the foundation of morality.
Henry Ward Beecher

Failure doesn’t mean you are a failure it just means you haven’t succeeded yet.
Robert H. Schuller

 If you listen to your fears, you will die never knowing what a great person you might have been.
Robert H. Schuller

If you owe the bank $100 that’s your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem.
J. Paul Getty

In modern business it is not the crook who is to be feared most, it is the honest man who doesn’t know what he is doing.
William Wordsworth

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.
Dale Carnegie

No enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution.
Niccolo Machiavelli

Not for nothing is their motto TGIF – ‘Thank God It’s Friday.’ They live for the weekends, when they can go do what they really want to do.
Richard Nelson Bolles

Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself.
Thomas J. Watson 


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