Stay Humble, Stay Grounded: Life lessons from 3 legends

However high you rise, whatever you achieve, remain anchored.
Someone I know called me the other day to tell me that she had achieved a rare distinction – rarely accorded to any Indian. While I appreciate that she felt elated about her success – and she, undoubtedly, is entitled to that feeling – I couldn’t escape the streak of, evidently insolent, pride in her. It was almost as if she was telling me, “Look at me. See what I have accomplished. Very few Indians have ever done this.” 
I have no problem if people feel good about their own achievements. But to be bombastic about a success defeats the opportunity to be joyful about it!
Amitabh Bachchan: Picture Courtesy – Internet
Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam: Picture Courtesy – Internet
One of the hallmarks of great achievers is their ability to stay grounded no matter how successful they are. On last night’s Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) show, a young contestant wanted to know what kind of daily routine the show’s superstar anchor, Amitabh Bachchan, led. “I lead a normal Life like you,” said the venerable Big B, “I go for a morning walk, I eat a simple meal of dal and rotis, I go to work and I blog in the nights. All my stardom is just part of my work. I don’t live any differently than anyone else.” I was not surprised with his answer. Bachchan’s humility is legendary. Years back, in the early ‘90s, when I was posted in Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) for India Today, I had a chance to meet Bachchan at a Children’s Film Festival reception. I walked up to him and introduced myself. He extended his hand to shake mine and said, “My name is Amitabh Bachchan.” I was taken aback. I told him that everyone here, of course, knew him and there was no need for him to introduce himself. He quickly replied, “I wasn’t sure I was known around here. It is always better to not imagine that people will know you.” Amazing, isn’t it? The other person who oozes humility is former Indian President Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam. I remember reading somewhere that when he became President, a former colleague of his from ISRO (India Space Research Organization) called him up over phone to congratulate him. Kalam’s friend is said to have started the conversation thus: “I wonder how does one greet the President of India?” Obviously, the reference was to whether Kalam’s name was to be prefixed with a ‘Your Excellency’ or an ‘Honorable Sir’. But Kalam is believed to have quipped, with his famed humility and wit, “Well, you just say ‘Hello’!”
Ilayaraaja: Picture Courtesy- Internet
I have come to understand that the difference between high-achievers and others is that the former are very evolved. They realize, soon enough, that all their fame and glory is not something that is entirely their doing, that their talent and success are a blessing from a Higher Energy, that everything is transient – including their success which makes them so famous. Music maestro Ilayaraaja says it beautifully, “None of us achieves anything. Everything happens through us.” Such a simple yet brilliant perspective to living!
In fact, I have learnt that when we realize that Life happens in spite of us, and not because of us, we awaken. And it is only the awakened who can stay anchored – and stay humble and grounded!

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Being sensible with a Life that you can’t make sense of


Don’t try to make sense of Life. It is the way it is with a reason. If you realize what the reason is, it will cease to be a mystery. And just as a reminder, ever since the Universe was created, no one has been able to solve this mystery called Life!

But, yes, you can be sensible with Life. At least, with your Life.

A friend sent me this SMS last week.

Zindagi ko badalne mein waqt nahin lagta, lekin waqt ko badalne mein, kabhie kabhie, saari zindagi lag jaati hai.

Translated it means: “It doesn’t take too much time for Life to change. But sometimes for (your) time to change, it takes an entire lifetime.

We are all a product of the time we go through. Those who don’t believe in the concept of time and karma may find this simple point of view difficult to accept. But even they will attest to Life’s enduring mysterious nature.

In a way, to take a telecom analogy, we are all like pre-paid SIM cards, launched into this world with a pre-ordained set of features and a design we are not aware of. It is when we try to seek certain features that we are not designed with that we suffer. Without realizing the pre-paid nature of our existence, we punish ourselves by cursing our fate, blaming (a) God for being partisan or even non-existent, and compare ourselves with the features endowed in other creations. Just as a pre-paid SIM card can be recharged or re-equipped only if the Operator allows it and never by the customer alone desiring it, so it is with Life. We will do well to embrace, appreciate and celebrate this truth.

You and I are just a part of a larger, inscrutable cosmic design. Our roles are both inconsequential and crucial at the same time. This paradox is again part of Life’s mysterious design. At one level, we cause nothing to happen on this planet, because we are pre-ordained to live in a certain way. Yet, we are part of whatever happens, to us, around us, in our lifetime__be it success or failure. We also have a huge responsibility towards (our) Life. Which is toward action, toward doing what we can, in any given situation, dutifully. It is, for all these reasons, and more, as the Bhagavad Gita reminds us, we must stay detached from the outcome while willing to be accountable on our actions. Again paradoxical. But such is Life. Revisiting this truism on a daily basis, helps us stay anchored and humble.

This, interestingly, is the only sensible way to live a Life that you can’t ever make sense of!