If you can’t avoid the rat race, at least enjoy the scenery!

We don’t have to wait for the big, dramatic, Life-changing moments alone to learn our lessons. Life offers a teachable point of view in each moment – all the time!

Yesterday I was in a long queue to clear security at the airport. The gentleman behind me, it appeared, was in a tearing hurry. He elbowed past me and even nudged his way ahead of the person in front of me. He did not stop at the yellow line and landed himself in front of the security officer even as the officer was frisking another passenger. The officer was, naturally, irritated and told Mr.Hurry to back off and return to the yellow line. But our man was not inclined to comply. He argued that he was tired of waiting in the queue. An altercation followed. The security supervisor arrived and demanded that the man step back. He physically escorted the man to the end of the mile-long queue! While many passengers smirked, giggled or shrugged their shoulders, the man’s sullen, grumpy look got me thinking.

Why do we hate queues? Aren’t we all in a perpetual queue__waiting to depart, ever since we arrived on the planet?

To be honest, I used to hate queues too. In the years I was a journalist, I would flaunt my “PRESS” identity card and get ahead of others in public places. I have argued with many a cop or officer, like Mr.Hurry, too. When I look back at those times, I do feel ashamed of my conduct. I have learned that getting ahead in Life does not mean elbowing people and being impatient. In fact, many a time, I have wondered what’s the big hurry, the rush? Think about it. Everybody around us is running faster and faster, edging past others, wanting to be the first one to complete the rat race. And then do what? Many people still don’t understand that at the end of the rat race we will still be rats! In wanting to get ahead, beat the queue, be the first to arrive, we are missing the scenery! Life’s beauty, its magic, is not simply in arriving at any point__it really is in enjoying the scenery too. I have, over the years, found that queues are a great place to meditate, to drop anchor, to go within and connect with the source. It’s the time to revisit and relearn patience. It’s when you can reflect on the inscrutable nature of Life!

Jetsun Milarepa, the 12th Century, Tibetan Buddhist monk has said it so beautifully – “Hasten slowly and ye shall arrive!”. It means keep walking, keep running the rat race if you must, but enjoy the scenery too. Stop and smell the roses. And don’t worry about finishing. For we all must finish our pre-ordained tenure on the planet, every which way, and finally depart. So, next time you are in queue, and are beginning to lose your cool, breathe easy. Think of Mr.Hurry. Think of Milarepa! Enjoy the scenery!

Your idea of Life is never going to happen

All of us, almost all of the time, wish Life were different. That it were not this but that. And when our wishes don’t come true, as they almost always won’t, we grieve, we plunge into misery and suffer.

Now, here’s the truth: Your idea of Life is never going to happen.

Life is not about those great moments when everything that you envisioned for yourself is happening. Much of Life is about doing the dishes, driving to work, attending painfully boring meetings, dropping the kids to art class on Sundays, having meaningless cups of tea with the boss, paying bills, filing them, attending inconsequential meetings of your condominium’s administrative association, mowing the lawn, cleaning your car, picking up laundry from the cleaners and so on and on and on…..The key to enjoying Life is to be able to enjoy these “listless” moments too!

You will die a thousand deaths, even as you are alive, if you are going to spend your Life mourning about “work” that you don’t enjoy. There will always be work to do and therefore there will always be stuff that you hate doing. Complaining about it, hating it and treating it as a burden is going to make your work__and Life__a drudgery. Surely.

Instead treat Life as a festival. Celebrate it. In a celebration, in a festival, even the most menial task gives you joy. I have a Bengali friend. He leads the Bengali Association in Bengaluru from the front. Every year, during the Dusherra festival, he and his friends in the Association, organize the Durga Puja in Bengaluru. Several years ago, when we used to work together and we also lived in Bengaluru, my friend invited us to the witness the festival, the Durga Puja. I remember him saying, “It is fun. Come along if you have the time. I have a very small role in organizing it. I have taken the responsibility to have the waste, the garbage, cleared without it causing a mess, a litter there. But it is fun!” I recall wondering how clearing garbage can be fun. Now, I know it can be.

Life can be fun, a celebration! Or drudgery. It really depends on what you want it to be!

Think about it. Why do you work? So that you can live! Now, why would you want to live, while dying every single moment? Living is not going to be fun unless you want it to be. Unless you make it fun! Remember this: Your idea of Life is never going to happen! So, might as well enjoy__and celebrate__Life’s idea for you!

Seek within and ye shall find

When you have nowhere else to go, when you have tried everything else__and nothing has worked__it is time to go within! The journey within is not one that most of us seeks willfully or gleefully. Sometimes, we are forced into it by Life. The Bible says that God instructed Abraham to “go forth” – to leave his father’s home, to depart from the unknown and go forward. Interestingly, the literal translation of the words in the Bible, ‘lech le’cha’, is “to go inside”. It is only after going inward, seeking within, that we discover the “key to the kingdom”!

My own inward journey happened after a series of blunders I made in the material world, and perhaps, out of an unsolicited moment of awakening! Years ago, on my office door, I had stuck a little yellow sign that read ‘Seek Within and Ye Shall Find’. I vaguely that knew the phrase had a Biblical connotation. But I didn’t bother to check or learn more. I simply purchased it from the bookstore where I found it and stuck it on my office door. At that time I led a team of 40 and the sign, I believed foolishly then, was to signal to my team members that I was Mr.Know All and they should never hesitate to walk in and seek clarification or approval. Those were the heydays of my ego trip as I was to realize later. In a few years after that, my business came down crashing like a pack of cards and I soon found that every effort I made to resurrect my tottering Firm was coming a cropper. Past the phase of temple visits, worships and rituals, wearing stones and rings, following vaastu and feng shui, I leaned on mouna – a practice of observing silence periods. mouna did not make my problems go away. But it sure gave me inner strength to deal with them. One day, in 2007, as one of, among the last few, my team members was leaving my Firm, I stood alone in my empty office (the support staff too had left for the day) and was reminiscing on how much things had changed. What used to house over 25 team members was on that day people-less. I was alone in that office at that time. Yet I was not grieving. I was not filled with sorrow. I was in fact at peace with my new, though extremely painful, reality. At that precise moment, I paused to reflect on the signage on my office door. Then, as if it was a Eureka moment, the signage made profound sense to me. I realized that the larger reason why me and my Firm were subjected to such disruptive change was to force me to go within, and to discover the higher purpose of my creation. I smiled to myself, locked up my office and left for home.

The truth and essence of Life, including the God we desperately seek, is within. There are possibly many ways to go within. Some are even well-advertised methods! But the destination for everyone is the same. All roads, methods, paths, ways, lead to the same home – within! The reason why we first think this to be mumbo-jumbo or initially believe “it is not for me” is because we are forever seeking outside. Just look at yourself. Look around you. All the wants that you and the people you know, and they people they know, are chasing are outside of us. Someone wants a new car, or a new house, or a new job, or a new spouse, or a new laptop, or something or the other __ hoping that by attaining it, happiness will prevail. However, no one has been happy by either chasing or achieving wants. The seeking outside has never rendered anyone peaceful and happy. At the same time, those that have sought within, have had no more need for the pursuit outside, have had no more wants and have already learned to be happy despite their circumstances.

Instead of spending a whole Life in vain, seeking outside and finding only impermanent and unfulfilling wants, when Life’s situations seem to check-mate you, simply accept them and make the pilgrimage within. For it is only within that you will find peace that is lasting, joy that is total, and bliss that is enduring!

When awareness comes, anxiety goes

A friend wrote to me saying “I am always anxious. Of something or the other. I am not sure it is right or wrong. But I don’t enjoy it one bit!”

How can anyone enjoy being in a continuous state of tension? Anxiety is nothing but being in a tense state – tense about things, people, events, situations, kids, work, commute, traffic, almost everything! To be sure, anxiety has become a part of our everyday living. And that’s primarily because the mind unfailingly magnifies our anxieties. So my friend is not alone.

Is there a way out? Indeed. Awareness can rid us of anxiety.

The human mind is like a freeway. Hundreds of thousands of thoughts, like vehicles on a freeway, make their way through the mind. Every thought need not be a call to action. But because of this notion that you are supreme, you are the center of your Universe, you jump at every thought. We used to have a pet at home years ago, a smart Doberman called Ashley. His ears would perk up if he heard the slightest sounds on the street. I can only think of all of us behaving like Ashley in response to every thought that makes its way through the mind. The anxious human mind is like a scared rabbit – it is forever scurrying in different directions! Responding to several zillion, irrelevant calls to action!

Your anxieties are actually evidence that you are not anchored within. And that’s because your reference points are all outside. For instance – Who’s saying what about you to whom? What will people think of me now? What if my kids don’t turn out like other kids their age? What if people think I am not smart, not handsome, not beautiful, not intelligent, not wealthy – whatever? Anxiety is not just a feeling. It is who you are. It is a reflection of your continuous desire to become something rather than simply be.

Such thinking makes Life miserable. Because we are being driven by desire. Besides, when we think of external reference points we are limiting ourselves. We are not seeing our whole potential. In worrying about wanting to become something that we are not, we are missing what we already are. In Tuesdays with Morrie (by Mitch Albom), Morrie tells the story of two waves in the ocean. The wave in the front tells the one following it that it is frightened because it is about to crash into the shore and cease to exist. But the second wave shows no fear. It explains to the one ahead: “You are frightened because you think you are a wave; I am not frightened because I know I am part of the ocean!”

Our anxieties are an impediment to our living in bliss! Once we become aware of our true nature, of who we really are, we will be free. Awareness will then replace anxiety. And then, like the second wave, we will realize that no matter how many times we crash on the shore, and stop being a wave, we will still celebrate being part of the ocean!

Choose not to remain stuck with pain

You have two options in your Life and with it! Either to learn from your suffering and move on, finding in the process the true essence and meaning of Life, or you live your Life remaining stuck with your pain and misery.

Think about it this way. Just as you cannot control the seasons, or the sunrises and sunsets, or the rain, or the rainbow, you cannot control Life. Nor can you control what happens to you through your lifetime. So, pain and pleasure are both inevitable. Pleasure you never have a problem with. Because who will say no to pleasure? But when pain arrives, you have a huge problem. You wish it weren’t there. Whenever and wherever there is a wishing, an expectation, agony and suffering is assured. So, in effect, nobody can escape suffering the first time you are afflicted by pain. But surely you can learn not to suffer when pain strikes the next time!

Intelligent living is to learn, appreciate and accept the nature of Life as being so uncontrollable and to understand its essence. It is to know that if you are born, you will be subject to some pain, some time or the other, in Life. It is also to know that you have the choice to learn from Life’s painful episodes and moments, and move on, by choosing, therefore, not to suffer. On the other hand, if you cling on to your pain, or the sources that cause you pain, you will be stuck with it. You will then be wallowing in a cesspool of suffering, misery, agony, accompanied often by low self-esteem and self-sympathy!

Only those who know that freedom from suffering, and peace, comes only when you stop fighting Life, will be able to move on. And unless you discover this truth about Life, you will remain stuck.

Ramana Maharishi by Henri Cartier-Bresson April 1950
The great Indian guru Ramana Maharshi (1879~1950) eventually died of cancer. It was a very painful end. There was no way even a seer like the great Ramana could escape it. Many doctors came, and they were very puzzled because while body seemed to be writhing in pain, there was no sign of any pain in his eyes. His eyes remained the same – as serene as ever. Through his eyes only the witnessing Self arose; it was the witnessing Self that looked, that observed, reported people close to him at that time. The doctors would ask, “You must be in great pain?” Ramana would reply, “Yes there is great pain, but it is not happening to me. I am aware that there is great pain happening to the body; I know that there is great pain happening. I am seeing it, but it is not happening to me.

Again, the fickle human mind will argue one of two ways. How is it that a sage like Ramana Maharishi can be afflicted by cancer? And when he himself could not avert any pain, what is the point of all this – how can you or I, lesser mortals, escape pain then? The answers lie in the questions themselves. Nobody can avoid or evade pain. None can. Your awareness, like Ramana Maharishi’s, can, however, help you understand that whatever is happening is not happening to you, the real you, but to the body or to a world that you are only visiting! That understanding is the way out of suffering. This is the truth! The other truth, though paradoxical, is also profound – without suffering you cannot understand Life!

Examine your Life. Refuse to remain stuck with pain. Use whatever is causing you pain__and suffering__as a means, a channel, to understand Life. And liberate yourself through that understanding.

Face your fears and spare yourself the suffering

What we fear the most also always causes our suffering. The simplest way to overcome fear is to allow it to possess you. Don’t hate it. Don’t run away from it. Just let it take over. When fear takes control, your physical being will be impacted, possibly your mind too will be affected, but your inner core, your soul will be unmoved, undisturbed. Through the awareness of this state, through realizing that your soul is impregnable, that nothing can affect the real ‘you’, you will transcend fear. You will find joy!

We all fear different things. At different times. From people to events to thoughts to memories to outcomes to conversations __ we fear a lot. We work overtime to avoid fear. And the more we avoid it, the more we are tormented by it. Instead overpower your worst fears by facing up to them.

For example, it is possible that you have been avoiding a difficult conversation because you know that nasty sentiments will be expressed and you don’t want it. As long as you don’t have that conversation and keep avoiding it, it will keep dominating your thinking. The fear will chew you up. Instead let the conversation happen. Allow yourself to be in total fear when the conversation happens. No problem. But through that fear you will actually discover that you have transcended it. That you have had the strength to face it, overcome and overpower it. It is almost magical. Possibly, your situation may be even more grave. One that may involve a physical conflict perhaps. Or one of dealing with a dominating opponent. Maybe you fear losing your job or even your Life. Again, interestingly, the same logic applies. Be fearful. But don’t run. Turn and face whoever, whatever is the source of your fear. Look the fear-causing source in the eye. And watch how your fear slowly leads you to an awareness, to an awakening that makes you connect with your inner core, your true Self.

Osho, the Master, describes this the best: “Only one thing is to be understood: when you allow fear and you tremble — watch it, enjoy it; and in that watching you will transcend it, you will see the body is trembling, you will see the mind is trembling, but you will come to feel a point within you, a deep center, which remains unaffected. The storm passes by, but somewhere deep within you is a center which is untouched: the center of the cyclone.”

Living in fear and suffering is meaningless. We have to learn to take the bull by the horns. The only thing that can erase fear is the act of facing up to it. Fear is a good chaser. It likes to gnaw at your heels but can never look you in the eye. So, face your fears today. And watch your suffering fade away. Facing fear may not end the pain. But it will surely spare you the suffering!

‘Vishu’ and the art of witnessing

In brief spells of awakening, we become witnesses. In those spells we do see Life for what it is. And not for what it once was or what it should be. If we can learn the art of being mere witnesses of our lives, all the time, we can be free from all bondage and therefore from all suffering!

Today is the festival of ‘Vishu’ – a celebration of abundance and prosperity that all people with roots in Kerala observe. I have become non-religious and non-ritualistic over the years. Even so, I love ‘Vishu’. Because the festival calls for a true celebration of abundance! When you wake up, you are escorted with your eyes closed to the prayer room or to where a special arrangement has been set up. You are to open your eyes only in front of this arrangement of fruits, vegetables, flowers, rice, pulses, coins and everything beautiful that the lady of the house will have set up overnight. To me, the festival is not only a gentle reminder that there is so much abundance in our lives, that we are blessed to be waking up in a home, where our basic needs are taken care of, but it is also a reminder that we can perhaps choose to always be witnesses – just as we are when we are in front of this resplendent arrangement. ‘Vishu’ asks for nothing from you. All you are required to do is to just be a simple witness. Just observe. Drink in the sight that fills your soul with peace and joy!

Being a witness is blissful. Because a witness has no role. A witness just watches. Observes. There is no analyzing. Therefore no judgment. Therefore there is no suffering, no misery. Witnessing means being minus the mind. The mind is the source of all interpretation. When you are witnessing, you have disregarded the mind. This is what happened to me when I saw the ‘Vishukani at home today. I did not analyze. I did not question. I did not opinionate. I simply saw, with bleary eyes and amazement perhaps, how bountiful Life is.

This is the quality that is missing in our daily living. Witnessing brings us to perfectly focus on the now. You obviously can’t witness either the past or the future! So, when there is no past, no future, what you are left with is the present. As witness, you have no role in the present. It is unfolding in its inscrutable pre-ordained fashion. And you, you can only merely remain a witness. Witnessing takes you away from all your suffering, into a realm from where you will never want to come back – bliss!

What the jackfruit tree taught me

The human mind is so fickle. It simply does not trust. I am sure this has happened to you too. That when you are beaten in Life, cannot go on any more and feel defeated, you often wonder why are you treated this way by Life? You wish at such times that Life was more understanding, compassionate and intelligent! You are suddenly aware of your mere, mortal, human nature and wonder if all the pain that you are being put through can even be endured by you__any more? The truth is however just the opposite. Nobody is ever given a situation in Life that she or he cannot handle. It’s the mind that says it can’t. What the mind protests, causing you untold misery and suffering, the spirit indefatigably accepts__always without protest!

Such is Life. Such is the beauty of creation.

The Teacher
There’s a jackfruit tree outside my balcony. In the last several weeks it has been bearing fruit. And is looking luscious, beautiful and inviting! Yesterday, I spent several minutes just staring at it. I noticed it held a very aesthetic charm __ a very poetic appeal! Right at my balcony’s level several fully-grown jackfruit hung. That’s when I noticed__and learned__the intricacies of how nature, how Life, created and provided. Jackfruits can grow up to 36 kg in weight. The branches and the stems that harbor fresh leaves look normal. As in they are green too and look vulnerable. They will break away from the tree even if a small weight is placed on them. But the fruit-bearing stems are strong, thick and hard. They are distinctly different from those bearing the leaves. It appeared to me that a Master Designer had taken adequate care to ensure that the heavy fruits that the tree bears are not falling off unless they are specifically plucked. In a special, masterful, way although each fruit is heavy, its stem is strong enough to hold it up.

I connected that learning to our own lives. We may not see it this way at all but our own burdens are possibly directly proportional to our ability to be able to bear them! If you sit down and reflect on your Life so far, you will discover that you have been able to eventually overcome every challenge, leap across every chasm, carry any burden or face any situation despite your initial doubts about being able to do so. Every time you have felt you had too much to do and too little time. Or each time you felt you will not be able to handle something. Or when you wished you could die than live and face a situation. Every such time, when you look back now, you will agree that you actually made it.

If you are faced with another such time, learn from the metaphor of the jackfruit tree. And remember that Life is both intelligent and benevolent. Remember also:

  • You have been given a situation only because you can and must handle it.
  • You have been given a burden only because you can and must carry it.
  • You have been given a test only because you can and must learn from it.
  • You have been given a challenge only because you can and must emerge stronger facing it.

And you have been given this Life only because you can must live it!

Understand, don’t interpret

A lot of our problems arise from our tendency to rush and interpret people, occurrences or even thoughts than understand them. Even before people have finished saying what they want to we have composed our responses in our mind. When a simple coincidence like a cat crossing our path happens, we have interpreted it as a bad omen. If we dream of someone dying in our dream, we interpret it as a sign that something grave is due to happen, often as a premonition of our own death! Our urge to interpret, or our inability to deeply understand Life, often comes in the way of our living fully, completely!

Even if unwittingly, my neighbor taught me the value of understanding, over interpreting, this past week. My neighbor also happens to be administering the affairs of the condominium in which we live. When we moved in here, I noticed that the common waste disposal bins were too small for the amount of trash that was generated by the apartments in our building. It never struck me then that I could suggest to my neighbor that she consider enhancing the capacity of those bins. However, when a journalist friend from a local daily pinged me asking for some thoughts on being responsible citizens in today’s age and time of community living in condominiums, I did speak openly on how ‘insensitive’ condominium planning and planners can be. I requested my friend not to quote me because I loathe any visibility and also because I was new in our condominium. My friend assured me that I would not be quoted. I was traveling for several weeks after this conversation so I missed reading the local papers in that time. Upon my return from my travels, I happened to meet my neighbor. She promptly referred to the report in the local daily, which had appeared when I was away, and said: “Good point. But I wish you had told me about this first before talking about it in the media.” I was shocked. I looked up the newspaper clipping and there I was, evidently quoted. My journalist friend had obviously not kept her word. I apologized to my neighbor profusely and transparently shared with her how this had come about. “I am sorry we are experiencing each other this way. I seek your understanding,” I prevailed upon her. It was a particularly awkward moment. I was meeting my neighbor only a second time since we had moved in. And to be defending a banal situation such as this one was so stupid. Further, in a condominium’s context, where neighbors, particularly if they are also administrators, have huge egos, this unintended media coverage and its possible aftermath were both imminently avoidable. My neighbor and I shook hands and we promised to reach out if we could help each other in any way. Ever since that instance, surprisingly, our neighbor has been always available for any escalations we may have had with regard to issues relating to the common areas or shared services in our building. And yesterday, she even reached out and apologized for an inconvenience that we were put through owing to the elevator not working.

I personally am humbled by her maturity and personal leadership. While the incidents in question itself are so inconsequential, her decision to employ trust and understanding, in place of ego and interpretation is both commendable and inspiring. If we look around us, more than half the time, our relationships are strained because of the scourge of interpretation. Almost anyone who lives in a condominium will appreciate the potential that such episodes have to vitiate the environment and spread disharmony. If my neighbor, more so in her role as an administrator, had chosen to interpret me, she may well have approached the entire episode of that media coverage as follows:

  1. How dare he talk about our condominium’s planning and planners when he is a rank newcomer here?
  2. Why did he choose to talk to the local daily when I was just living a floor above him – obviously he has a sinister agenda to paint me black?
  3. For all the damage he has caused, for which he feigns an apology now, I don’t want to have anything to do with him and his family – let him fend for himself!

There’s so much destructive power that interpretation holds. And so much constructive opportunity that understanding offers. It is a no-brainer which path we must choose. Yet, by default, we all often rush to interpret. To interpret means to judge. To judge means to perceive. And, as Aristotle has said, to perceive means to suffer, because what you perceive may or may not be true. To understand, on the other hand, is to accept people for who they are. There is no judgment involved here. And those that understand always, as I have learned from my neighbor, have a teachable point of view.

When Life comes knocking, always answer the door

Opportunity doesn’t always come in seductive, unputdownable packaging. It simply shows up. It is up to you to pick it up and allow it to make something out of you. Now, whether or not you immediately make something material out of that opportunity, you can be sure of growing and learning from the experience.

Earlier this week, while clearing some 20-year-old files, I stumbled upon papers related to an aborted project I had led in the early 90s. They brought back a rash of memories and learnings!

I used to be a business journalist (working for Living Media – the publishers of India Today and Business Today) then. Meeting CEOs was part of my daily drill. One such CEO was a much sought-after yet redoubtable takeover tycoon. At the end of our interview, he offered me a job that I couldn’t refuse – to head his proposed Direct-to-Home television venture. At that time, even cable TV was new in India. Most people did not know of a TV channel beyond the state-run Doordarshan. Zee TV and ABN were the only two private channels available via cable – their presence too was restricted to the metros and mini-metros. I was hardly 27. It was unheard of in Indian media circles then for someone that young to be offered the job of the President of a company. And more important for someone to actually accept it! I remember that on the eve of my taking over my new role, a few journalist friends of mine, sat me down at the Bengaluru Press Club – a famous watering hole for journos then and now – and advised me how ‘risky’ it was take such an “insecure” job with a man/organization, whose background and intention were questionable. But I pressed on. I must confess I was blinded by ambition. My business card that read ‘President’ and the corporate American Express Credit Card were my most prized possessions then! Of course, I was also lured into the job for the sheer ‘adventure’ in exploring two areas about which I had no clue – television as a medium/business and the building a team/organization. I simply dared and took the plunge. I cobbled together a passionate but unsung team and we achieved our first target of preparing a project report in a record 100 days on setting up a DTH service in India – complete with a business plan, a slew of memoranda of understanding with global satellite companies and software (content) production houses and with a guide on how to work the labyrinth of broadcast regulation then prevalent in India. DTH in India in the 90s was unthinkable. It, in fact, eventually arrived only in the mid 2000s and is the only broadcast medium in India today! Much to the shock and surprise of me and my team, even as were ready to present our project report to our principals, the tycoon went bust __ and missing! Media reported that he had vanished after ripping off the assets of all the companies he had acquired. Several cases and investigations were launched against him. Crucially me and my team were not paid our salary dues! My honeymoon with corporate stardom lasted barely 100 days! In a flash, I was out of job. And my media friends, both offline and in print, opined on the ‘pitfalls of ambition and greed’. I remember sulking and refusing to even come out of my bedroom for over three months after this ‘debacle’  __ unable to face either my family or friends or the world! It wasn’t until my former employer from Business Today called me back that I found the courage to emerge from hibernation! When I reached his office in New Delhi, to rejoin my position on his team, I saw a poster on the wall behind his desk. It had a picture of a turtle and read: “Behold the turtle: He only makes progress when he sticks his neck out.” That poster and its message did not make as much sense then as it does now!

When I look back at my rather eventful, yet tumultuous at times career, I feel the learnings from those 100 days have been crucial in molding me as a business leader. I gained nothing materially from that misadventure. But I gained a wholesome experience and key learnings which no B-school or no straight-jacketed job could have ever taught me. The ability to travel internationally without even pausing to get over jet lag, the daring to cold call on global industry leaders, the nuances involved in documenting joint-venture agreements, the art of business planning, the intricacies involved in building and leading a team, and, of course, of inspiring them to share a vision and destiny __ all these learnings came from that aborted project. In the immediate aftermath of the project’s demise, none of this was apparent to me. But over the years, when I look back at various events and opportunities that followed, I am certain that without that DTH project’s sharp, and incorrigibly condensed, learning curve, I would not have been able to deal with many of them.

Life’s essence is not in its predictability as I have discovered. Its essence is always in the learning that follows each test that she gives us first. And no test, even if you fail at it, is a wasted effort. Each one is an opportunity to learn, grow and evolve! Life may not always make you rich, but each experience in Life will, undoubtedly, leave you enriched!