Knowing the ‘why’ of whatever you want to do is what will drive you to doing it!

If you are postponing doing something you either don’t like to do it or you don’t have a strong enough reason to do it!

Someone I know reached out yesterday wanting to know how to beat procrastination. He said he often finds that he’s postponing what he wants to do. And watching someone else do the same thing with ease makes him feel guilty.

Honestly, procrastination is a demon that we all have to deal with and conquer at some time – or at several times – in our Life. It is an intensely personal conflict and can be overcome only by a deeper understanding of who you are and what you love doing and, important, what you don’t like to do.

procrastination.jpgI have understood that there are only two reasons why you postpone doing something – from laundry to paying bills to writing poetry to reviewing your career to enrolling for a skill-development program or starting a gym routine. The first reason is that you simply don’t like doing that something. Now who wants to do laundry or work out for an hour everyday if you can avoid it. But when you can’t avoid something, you must just get down to doing it before it becomes both urgent and important. If you let it remain undone or incomplete, one day it will blow up in your face. That’s the risk you run with procrastinating over stuff that you can’t avoid doing. The other reason why you postpone doing something is because you don’t have a deeper reason for doing it. These often apply to longer-term Life decisions. For example, if you are a good writer and love writing, yet if you are unable to get started, it means there is nothing compelling about your writing that drives you to write. People ask me how I manage to blog daily – I have been doing it for more than 6 years now, on the trot: first on my school group, then on Facebook and now, in addition, on this Blog. I manage to create time to write daily because I am driven by a sense of purpose to “awaken people to the opportunity called happiness – to tell them that they can indeed be happy despite their circumstances.” So, I don’t write to just satiate a desire to express myself. I write to share my learnings so that somehow, somewhere, a reader may find a connect and value in what I have to say.

The only way to deal with procrastination is to have conversations with yourself. Don’t beat yourself over it ever. That’s not the way to deal with it. Examine all that you postpone. If there’s stuff that you don’t like to do, and can avoid doing, then don’t do it. Simple. There’s no scope for grief here. If there’s stuff you hate but can’t avoid, develop a process – and attitude – to get it done. Again, don’t grieve, don’t rant. Just do it. And if there’s stuff you love doing and yet you postpone – because you are too starved for time or motivation or both – then ask yourself why you should be doing this in the first place. If you find no “why” forthcoming, then set the activity aside. Do it whenever you can. Again, no need to feel angtsy or guilty about it. If you can give yourself a compelling reason – the “why” – to do what you love doing, then use that “why” to drive you to doing it. The bottomline is this: if you know yourself better and if you know why you must do what you must do, you will stop procrastinating! And, important, that’s one way you can stop postponing ‘your’ happiness!  

There are a lot of Tim-like opportunities and Shaktimans waiting for us

If we make an effort, however small it may be, to touch another Life, we will live meaningfully!  

Reading the news this morning of Shaktiman’s (the horse in Dehradun who lost a limb after he was brutally beaten up by a local politician over a month ago) passing saddened me. A Life so unfortunately, so heartlessly, snuffed out.

Tim Mahoney & Shaktiman Picture Courtesy: Internet

The Shaktiman episode assumed a political overtone no doubt. And people took to social media to express their angst too. Understandable. But the story also leaves us richer with the learning that every aspect of creation gives us perspective on Life’s larger design, it’s purpose. Because, among the many who shared their grief over Shaktiman’s plight, two people actually went to work on it. Jamie Vaughan, an artificial limb expert, who was treating Shaktiman after one of his legs was amputated following the incident, posted, on Facebook, the requirement of a prosthetic leg to be sourced from Virgina and shipped to India urgently. Jamie, who works for an NGO treating animals in Bhutan, was hoping that someone traveling to India would volunteer to carry the precious cargo to her for Shaktiman. But Tim Mahoney, a former Bank of America employee, decided to do something better. He traveled from Kentucky to Virginia, picked up the prosthetic limb and traveled 12,000 km to Dehradun, at his own expense, all for a “call of heart”. Both Tim and Jamie had never known or met each other. Both of them were trying to help the distressed and injured horse – obviously expecting nothing in return.

I read about Tim’s compassion in the Times of India a few days ago. Ever since, I have been thinking of how this reminds us about how much we can do to help Life around us. Truly, I believe that with all that we have, we can do a lot, lot more, within our circle of influence. We don’t have to travel 12,000 km necessarily. What Tim’s selfless, magnanimous gesture does is it inspires us to pause and to think.

All of us are created compassionate. We become self-obsessed because either we are busy fighting our own battles and insecurities or we are busy earning a living. I think if we step out of our shells and look up, there will be a lot of Tim-like opportunities and a lot of Shaktimans waiting for us out there. Make time for someone today, go make a difference!

It is only from feeling lost in Life that you can go figure what makes you come alive

Celebrate being clueless and not knowing where your Life is going!

20160415_164125There may be times in Life when you will begin to question why you made the choices that you made. There may be anger and grief in you for what has happened. And there may even be guilt over what you have done that led to what has happened. As you wallow in self-pity and self-doubt, everything about your Life will appear listless, uninteresting and meaningless. You just begin to hate the Life you have and don’t know where to begin. Or how to snap out of such a state.

Relax. You are perfectly normal if you feel that way about your Life just now. It is only from feeling lost in Life can you find yourself, find focus and learn to appreciate the value of being happy despite your circumstances. I too have been there and felt exactly that way. So whatever I tell you now, I share from personal experience.

We must first understand that Life by itself has no meaning. You came with nothing. And you will go, when your time is up, with nothing. So all this drama of achieving, possessing, losing, reclaiming, all this is just a waste of an entire lifetime, really. But this doesn’t mean that there’s no point in living. Obviously a Higher, Intelligent (that’s certainly more intelligent that everyone around here) Energy has created you and given you the gift of this lifetime. Now if you are spending this lifetime brooding, grieving and feeling miserable, then you are clearly squandering this opportunity, this gift. Recognize that the opportunity to utilize the gift of this lifetime is with you. Nobody but you can live your Life for you. No matter who you are with, you have to act, you have to take charge, you have to get moving to create the Life that you will enjoy living. Simply, you must get down to work to bring meaning to your Life by doing all – and only – that which makes you happy.

Now, it’s quite possible that you are feeling lost in Life because you are where you are because of the choices you have made so far. It is always your past that creates your present. And it is your present that seeds the future. Since no one can undo the past, the only way you can move into the future is by living in the now. When you are clinging to the dead past, you are missing the now. Your brooding over what was is not going to change it for you. As you go along in Life you will discover that no experience is ever a waste – clearly, as Steve Jobs said, you can only connect the dots backward. So, let go of the past but learn from your past choices. Understand which of those choices made you happy. And which are the choices that you would never want to make again?  Then ask yourself what is it that will make you happy? And begin to work in that direction. You must remember here that from where you are you may not be able to immediately transition to where you want to be. But unless you start making choices relating to your happiness, you will not move in the direction of where you want to be. Also know that sometimes the future you want to create for yourself may seem hopelessly distant. Or that you may struggle with getting started on the journey. This is when you must be patient and start learning to live in the now. Trust the process of Life. Things happen in their own time and at their own pace. Your job is to keep working on being happy celebrating and savoring each moment.

Knowing your ikigai helps here. Ikigai in Japanese means reason for being. But, colloquially, it also means what do you wake up for each morning? What gets you excited to get out of bed and going? Find your ikigai. And this takes some time and effort. So, you begin with a long list of things you like doing. And keep doing most of them. Soon you will realize that you love doing somethings more than the others. The list now gets shortened. And soon again you will discover that when doing a thing, or a couple of things, you just feel blissful. That then is your ikigai. Start focusing on it. Do it again, and again, and again. Become a master at your ikigai. When you become world-class and attain mastery at it, you not only are happy doing it, you are also profiting from your happiness because the world likes to pay a premium to engage with masters!

So, stop ruing the fact that you are lost. Instead celebrate being clueless. And get down to working on your Life. An exciting journey awaits you that will help you understand who you really are and what makes you really come alive and be happy.

Shaandaar! Zabardast!! Zindabad!!!

Live Life fully alive. Be awesome. Be terrific!
My wife Vaani and I have been telling Dasrath Manji’s story, for eight years now, in all our workshops. We inspire and invite managers to learn from Manjhi’s tale of grit and focus no doubt, but we also help them connect with another key learning – living a Life of Purpose. Manjhi found his Life’s Purpose, to break down the mountain in the Gaya district of Bihar, which separated his native Gehlaur from the nearest town Wazirganj. Until Manjhi’s feat, his village-folk had to either climb the 25ft-high mountain by foot to cross it or had to go around it, taking a circuitous 55 km route. Manjhi broke down that mountain with just a hammer and chisel – he did it alone, over 22 years! A feat that is unparalleled in human history. The road Manjhi helped pave between Gehlaur and Wazirganj reduced the distance between the two places to 15 km!
Dasrath Manjhi (left) and Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Manjhi
So, when we saw Ketan Mehta’s just-released biopic on Manjhi – Manjhi: The Mountain Man (Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays Manjhi admirably) – the story wasn’t new to us. In fact, we came away thinking that the film fails to do justice to the simple moosahar(one who eats rats; the name of a community of rat-eaters in Bihar) who chose to serve selflessly. His form of service was to pave a road through a mighty mountain that caused his wife Phaguniya’s death. While the film takes, naturally so, cinematic liberties, like the romance between Manjhi and Phaguniya or the evil acts of the Thakurs and the mukhiya, it somehow falls short of showcasing Manjhi’s purposefulness. He is shown as someone who remains rooted to his cause more from his tryst with the mountain. Perhaps that’s Mehta’s view and we must respect that. But what I liked about the film is that it delivers two memorable messages:
1.     Manjhi’s mantra of “Shaandaar! Zabardast!! Zindabad!!! – Terrific! Awesome!! Alive!!!” is very inspiring. This what Siddiqui’s Manjhi (not sure if Manjhi Original ever spoke those words) tells anyone who asks him how is he doing. He is shown soldiering on against a remorseless mountain in inhuman conditions, but every time someone stops by to ask him how’s he doing, he has only the mantra in reply – “Shaandaar! Zabardast!! Zindabad!!!” It is an infectious mantra no doubt. And something we can practice in our daily lives too.
2.     Mehta’s film shows us how Manjhi too faces his dark moments. When he thinks he cannot go on. When he finds the world out there is cold, its people beastly and inhuman and the mountain unrelenting. But then this is the time when Manjhi dips into his inner being. This is where he meets his Phaguniya who eggs him on to last one more day and to plough on. We too face our mountains. Our mountains are often mere molehills, when compared to Manjhi’s, but we imagine them to be insurmountable peaks standing obstinately in our way. So we too crumble. We too want to badly cry out of the game. We too say we can’t go any further. And that’s when, as this film points out, we must invest in Manjhi’s method of looking within. When we seek within, we will find the energy, the motivation and the reason to plough on – in any context or situation we may find ourselves. Remember: if we listen to what the world has to say, we will get nowhere. The world has only opinions. But the Universe is full of energy. And it is the same energy that powers the Universe that powers you – and me – too. So, when we dip into that energy, we will always find a way to move forward.
I am not sure you or I will have a chance to, or may even want to, break down a mountain like Manjhi did. But if we can learn from the Mountain Man’s Life to be terrific, be awesome, be alive to Life, every single day, and live a Life of Purpose, well, we would surely have lived this lifetime more meaningfully than we are doing just now!   

We are all Special Purpose Vehicles

Is there a right way to live?
Each of us is unique. We come from the same source and we complete this Life’s journey to go back to the same source. However, while all Life is equal, our lifetimes are cast in different experiential molds. Each of us has a special role to play in our lifetimes and has been created with a Purpose – and for a Purpose. We are all, to borrow a term from the corporate sector, Special Purpose Vehicles!!! It is only till we discover the Purpose of our creation that we struggle with living out our lifetimes. Magically, when our Purpose manifests itself in front of us, the haze clears and the experiments thus far, and the learnings from them, blend to create our own unique way of thinking, living, working and winning.
The flavors of how we want to live may be as unique as each of us is, but the common thread is to serve and to live intelligently__and happily__ever after, whatevermay be the circumstance we are placed in. Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Hasan Chisty, the 12th century Sufi saint, whose shrine is located in Ajmer, Rajasthan, has said it so beautifully: “Live your life with the magnanimity of a river, with the kindness of the sun and with the humility of the earth.”

 So, if you think you are stuck in a rut or are lamenting that your Life’s going nowhere, relax. Wait till your life’s Purpose finds you. And then you too will awaken to the Garib Nawaz’s (Chisty is popularly known so) way of living a meaningful and happy Life!!