Gaining from loss

You will learn to value what you have, only when you lose something!
Only a loss, physical or emotional, often awakens us to the reality that our lives are soaked in grace. Until then each of us takes our Life for granted. So, we stumble along in a perpetual state of ‘I-know-it-all’ or ‘I-am-in-control’. And then something always happens – that shocks and numbs us, alright, but also awakens us. It’s intensity shakes us to the extent that we begin to count our blessings even in the darkest hours of grief and sorrow. In a way, therefore, a loss is a great way to reboot in Life!
Loss is inevitable. Just as death is inevitable. So, when you lose something, or someone, don’t worry about what happened. Don’t grieve over why it happened. Anybody offering you a rational explanation for the ‘why’ is only consoling you. Consolations are of no use. Instead of consoling yourself, face the loss upfront. Asking why, lamenting and crying hoarse are of no use. Get up and face the brutal reality of your Life. Focus on the learning that Life wants you to have through the experience. This is the only way to make the loss worthwhile.
A man lost everything material in his Life – money, assets, his home, his job. Everything. Absolutely everything. What he had left was his family – his wife and his two children. A close friend of the man was genuinely concerned and expressed his shock over what had happened. He said, “How do you manage? How do you live?” The man replied: “It is only now that I am living. Up until now, I was just existing, earning-a-living perhaps! Living through this cashless, penniless phase, I am realizing that money is resource. It is not a constraint. Not having money is not a crime. I am learning that the value of what I have, which is my family, is far more significant than what I have lost. Because I can always earn money in the future. But I can never get my family back had I lost them.”
That’s a remarkable way to look at Life and loss – to gain from what you have lost! If you look closely, you will see that all aspects of Life are impermanent, perishable, transient. So, try and simply witness the Life that is happening to you. Don’t ask why. Don’t attach meanings to any loss. Just watch what’s happening. And celebrate what you have. Not that such an attitude can make your Life, especially in the wake of a loss, any easier, but it can definitely make it peaceful!

Be alive – Stop being a Resume!

Stop being a resume. Be a person. Be alive. Live!

I met a friend who was between jobs. He asked me to take a look at his resume. And wanted to know how much I would offer someone like him__with his qualifications, his achievements, his profile__as an annual remuneration package, if I was a decision-making recruiter in his industry. I dodged his question citing lack of competence and knowledge. His keenness to check out his worth amused me though.

Why are we so obsessed with our price tag in the job market? Isn’t is high time we understood that features, benefits, value-for-money pitches are for things. People cannot be evaluated the way things are. A doctor is worth as much as the lives he saves and not by the money he makes. A singer is valuable because she makes her listeners’ hearts sing and not because she is “always in the news” __ Shamshad Begum who passed away earlier this week is a case in point. A car mechanic is brilliant when he can fix your car’s engine efficiently and not because he works for a big, multinational automobile brand.

In a way, we have all become victims of a society that values our utility more than our real selves! A carpenter, an electrician, a doctor, a lawyer, a writer, an actor __ all these are professionals offering a service, a certain utility. But is this who the person is? Is the person who does carpentry only a carpenter? Isn’t there more to a doctor’s persona? Somewhere, in trying to become successful professionals, all of us have got wedded to our utility value, our usefulness to and in society, and so have started identifying ourselves with our resumes. We have stopped looking at our self worth! The identification with the material side of our lives has become so strong, so rigid that we are only driven by our desire to command higher price tags in the job markets. Earning a living has become an obsession. Living has become an after-thought, a virtual impossibility in this title-obsessed, perk-obsessed, bank balance obsessed world!

If you ask yourself who you really are and what you really love doing, you will start living! Living for yourself doesn’t mean at all that you must be selfless and insensitive. This only means you learn to do what makes YOU happy. This means don’t sacrifice your inner joy for the sake of labels, expectations, opinions and conditions that people around you impose upon you. Nothing wrong with it if what you are doing gives you joy and serves society as well. But many a time, people are caught in the web of earning more at the cost of their own joy! This is the cause of all their grief and suffering.

Look for inspiration from nature. A flower flowers. Birds chirp. Rain falls. Rainbows appear. All these and more are happening not because they are being judged or demanded or paid for to do so. They just do it for their own joy! In the process they bring us, observers, alive. They enthuse and energize us. But they don’t let our opinions, judgments or valuations pin them down. They keep on flowering, chirping, falling and appearing.

Things are for using. People are for simply being. Things have a price. People are priceless. Don’t bother about what value you have in the job market! Simply do what gives you joy. Bliss and earnings will follow __ in that order!

Success and Failure are mere visitors in your Life!

Stay unruffled in success and in failure! Treat both as mere events. And know that both of them are impermanent. They will pass too having served their tenure in your Life!


Almost everyone struggles for a big break in Life. Behind every success story is years of hard work and toil. Yet, when people do become successful, they often forget the road they have walked and are struck by hubris. Very few successful people have been able to avoid being felled by hubris. A very successful business leader in the US was once asked by a reporter from Fortune, what the secret of his humility and success was. And he pointed to a framed poster that hung on a wall in his office. The poster said: “Beware of the Giant Killer: Hubris!” The CEO said he looked at the poster a few times daily especially when he received praise or when one of his decisions, taken amidst much debate, bore fruit! “True success,” said the CEO, “is to keep hubris out of your Life!”


The latest issue of Open magazine has a story on the “Side Effects of Fame”. And it talks of an anecdote about the late Hindi actor Navin Nischol refusing an offer to act alongside Amitabh Bachchan in the 1975 cult film ‘Deewar’ directed by Yash Chopra. Shashi Kapoor went on to play that role and his dialogue ‘Mere Paas Maa Hai’ has become Hindi cinema’s most memorable one-liner! Nischol’s reasoning for declining Yash Chopra’s offer was hubris. He had been successful with some films in the late 60s and early 70s. In 1971, he played the hero in a lesser-known film called ‘Parwana’, in which Amitabh Bachchan plays the villain. Nischol apparently told Chopra that since he was a hero he cannot play “second fiddle to an upcoming actor like Bachchan”. Surely, later in his Life, Nischol may well have rued his decision several times over! Because ‘Deewar’ became a classic and Bachchan a super star with it!


I have been felled by hubris too. In the years 2002~2005, when I was taking wrong decisions with our business, I was told by everyone around me that we would pay a huge price if we walked that way. I heard all the advice that came my way. But never bothered to listen to any of them. The thing with hubris is that it blinds you and deafens you at the same time.


Ultimately, hubris will lead you to your downfall. And in the time that you are grounded, when you are licking your wounds, is when you will awaken to the numbing realization that you had ignored the most basic, the elementary rules of Life__in both personal and professional situations. You will grieve. And you will agonize. But neither is going to make your situation any better. In fact, depression will set in and make a bad situation even worse.


Which is why, it is important to be untouched by failure too. And one sure way to do that is to learn from it. Treat the entire experience as a lesson and not as a crime. That way you will find and leverage value in a loss, defeat or failure.

Remember that both success and failure are visitors in your Life. And visitors don’t stay forever. They only visit. Both have a mind and time of their own. We cause or invite neither. Though, with all our logic, we will want to believe that we actually do. The truth is that we have a right to act, to lay out and follow a process, but really can’t always control the outcome of our efforts. And yet we have to own the outcome we end up with. Intelligent living is about understanding this truth and living by it.