Everything happens in Life to humble you, to make you stronger and happier.
Yesterday, after listening to my Fall Like A Rose Petal Talk a gentleman in the audience spoke up. He was almost in tears, his voice was choked with emotion. He said that he was contemplating committing suicide but hearing our story – Vaani’s and mine – he was inspired now to “turn around and face Life than run away from it”.
Both Vaani and I are humbled that our Life’s journey and the lessons we picked up through it – which we share with audiences that care to pause and reflect – are useful. To be sure, ours has been a tumultuous ride over the past decade, numbing in many respects. I must confess that in the early stages of our bankruptcy (Read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal) I would often cry hoarse asking “Why?”, “Why Me?”. There have even been times during my Talks or conversations centered around my Book or on Life and Happiness, when there have been fewer people in the audience than we would have expected. But almost every single time, someone has always walked up to us and said that our sharing helped them relate to their Life situation better. The gentleman yesterday elaborated, “Hearing you I realized that Life is not a curse but that this human form is a blessing. I have now resolved to learn to be happy despite my circumstances.”
Life by no means is easy. Sometimes you may be pushed to a corner or hung by a thin thread at the edge of a precipice. But in every challenging situation, through experiencing the pain, the trauma, you can learn to be non-worrying, non-frustrated and non-suffering. When you learn to be this way, you can only be happy.
Long back, when our crisis blew up on our face, a friend of ours, Philip, visited us from Kochi. He wanted to personally be with us and share his solidarity with us. He took me to the Woodlands Drive-In restaurant (in Chennai; which was later, sadly, closed down), bought me coffee, and told me this: “AVIS, the only reason why things happen to us in Life is for us to learn to be stronger and happier. Just accept your Life for what it is. Surrender to Life. Let Life take over. You don’t come in its way.” When he said this, it made no sense to me. But, over time, I have come to believe in what he said. I completely relate to, and agree with, that perspective. I have realized that everything happens for a reason. And I have not only emerged stronger and happier from our experience, I have been humbled by it.
When the gentleman spoke yesterday, I felt a lump in my throat. I held myself back from breaking down. Quietly, I prayed to Life, my Teacher, expressing my eternal gratitude for this awakening experience that we are going through. Without it, there will be no Book, no sharing, no Talks and, most importantly, I personally would have never learnt to ‘Fall Like A Rose Petal’!
Only those who change from within when Life changes live a full Life!
A young business leader who I know for some time now connected with me on Facebook. He had been in several of my workshops in the past. I used to then, as a champion of organizational culture and high-performance, lead sessions on Jim Collins’ and Jerry Porras’ Built To Last model. I would exhort my audiences to think beyond goals if they wanted to make their organizations great and build them well enough to last long after they themselves were gone! While introducing Collins’ and Porras’ concept of BHAGs (pronounced bee-hags) – meaning Big Hairy Audacious Goals – I urged teams to draw up their own BHAGs. So, my manager friend, asked me this on FB Messenger: “AVIS, do you still talk about BHAGs?” I smiled at his question. I thought for a moment. And I replied: “I do. Except BHAG now, to me, stands for this – Be. Humble. Accepting. & Grateful.!”
Indeed. For me now, the biggest, most audacious goal anyone can and must have in Life is to just be. To be humble. To be accepting. And to be ever, perpetually, grateful. So, the punctuations in my version of the expansion of the BHAG acronym are not accidental. It is not ‘Be Humble, Accepting & Grateful!’. It is ‘Be. Humble. Accepting. & Grateful.’ (In the strictest sense to just be can never be a goal and it is simple to just be; however, since most beginners, for lack of proper hand-holding struggle with the idea, and to draw a parallel with the material world of BHAGs, I have taken the liberty to suggest that it is an audacious goal! Seek the understanding of all of you who know the value of just being, and are evolved, who are reading this!)
Post my FB Messenger conversation with the manager I reflected on how much I had changed over the years. There I was, some 15 years ago, ambitious, aggressive, sometimes abrasive, hungry for material success; and always impatient and angry with the world. And here I am totally anchored, extremely at peace with, and in, my completely battered and devastated material world – not bitter, not angry and no longer impatient! The way I look at BHAG as a concept now personifies the change in me.
And when I look around me, I see everyone changing. Some of them change, of course, because the wind is blowing in a different direction. But others change because they genuinely feel differently about Life. I always believe that the second category of people are the ones who change from within. Tamil film Super Star Rajnikanth, in his eulogy, the other day, to Jayalalithaa acknowledged that he had made a mistake in the way he had judged her and opined about her. That kind of genuine transformation, honest appraisal, can only come from within. And it is this change, seeing it, seizing it and being it, that is the real wealth in Life.
I guess anyone can have all the fame, all the money and all the power – and yet may not have the ability to just be: to sleep under the stars, to be humble and to acknowledge that Life happens through you and never because of you or for you. But only those who can, in any circumstance, just be – be immersed in the moment, who realize that they don’t control Life and who can accept whatever comes their way with open arms and immense gratitude – only such people really live a full Life.
The manager’s question, my seemingly witty one-liner, and my deep reflection on it reminded me that I have miles to go. But I am happy and grateful that I am on the right road, and am headed in the right direction!
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opportunity to break free from the ‘I, me, mine’ trap and is a lesson in gratitude. Saying “Thank You!” is the best prayer….