Don’t give up, just yet

Don’t give up, just yet

Listen to my heart, it will tell you a story

Of a man’s search for a path to glory

The dreams started with ebb and a flow

But soon engulfed everything I know

 

The mind if you read will give you clues

Of many false starts and failed attempts

But tugging and towing every string

Didn’t ever leave hope of a life fulfilled

 

Hold my hands and you will feel

A grip so strong that will make you wince

The lines on my palms may have worn

Yet the fists will prove that they are strong

 

Walk with me and I am sure

You will soon be out of breath

For my feet seem to have wings

They are as steadfast as they can be

 

Heed the voice and you will hear it grow

Despite the din of naysayers you know

But alas your ears listen to them

Hanging to every word that leaves them

 

You can’t see me it is true

For I am nothing but a reflection of you

Soul, ego, and inner voice they call me

The ones who have recognized me so

 

I am waiting for you around the corner

Am sure you will find me sooner than later

Pray, don’t give up just yet

Because I am the only hope you have

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We’re all stories in the end

We’re all stories in the end

“One of the most important things that someone needs to do in life, and often neglects, is reflection”, wrote Tai Snow in his book – Stoicism: A Beginners Guide to the Wisdom of Seneca, Marcus Aurelius and the Stoic Life.

We all know that there is absolute truth in the statement. In fact, most of us are so busy with our lives, running around like headless chickens that reflection seems to be a far cry. 

Why do we not reflect? Is it because we do not know how to reflect or don’t think that the outcome of reflection will benefit us? I’m sure that there must be something more happening in our minds because reflection is one activity where we don’t need anyone but ourselves.

I believe, and it is view that I have expressed in my book as well; back in our formation years, everybody was expecting us to answer questions. And these questions came from our parents, teachers and almost anyone who wanted us to know answers to all the questions possible in order to be intelligent thereby successful. 

It is only after going through the trials and tribulations of adulthood that we may find the need to reflect. And it all probably starts with a question – Is this the kind of life that I wanted to have for myself? Is this my story?

Smartphone, dumbass!

Smartphone, dumbass!

This is no epiphany. We stopped remembering phone numbers with the advent of a mobile phone. But with a smartphone, we choose not to remember directions (courtesy: Google Maps), recipes, spellings, heck almost anything and everything that requires memory. Come on, that’s exactly why the phone makers gave us the memory and processing power of a computer in our hands!

But I think by giving us so much power, these smartphones are taking our confidence away?

In the words of a dear friend, “Confidence is knowing where you stand. It is not only being sure of what you know but also equally sure of what you don’t know – and not being afraid to admit that.”

Now, I have been in many a meeting where managers keep their smartphones handy. And I always used to get annoyed looking at them furiously typing something on their smartphones while listening to me. Now that’s rude, I used to think until I overheard two young colleagues discussing a Mr. Google. Pretty soon I realized that they had this nickname for half a dozen of clients – people who never admitted that they didn’t know something. They would just nod their heads in a way that never gave away anything while looking up the topic of discussion on their handset. 

“They can’t possibly know everything”, I told my colleagues to keep their giggling at bay. However, I kept wondering why these so called Mr. Google’s don’t realize that it really doesn’t matter whether they have the answers or not. After all, these answers are not a measure of their smartness or confidence.

The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence – Charles Bukowski

I definitely don’t consider someone who doesn’t have the answers as dumb because he might have never come across those questions. But to not admit that he or she doesn’t know all the answers is definitely dumb. They may win a battle with others but will definitely lose the war when it comes to themselves and their own confidence.

Questions that matter

Questions that matter

A great poet once introduced me to six wise men;

Their names are WHO, WHAT, HOW, WHY, WHERE and WHEN.

I kept bumping into them one-way or the other,

But not for a purpose and never together,

Till one day, asked a friend in need,

Will your six wise men help me?

Of course, I replied, but remember to be true,

For if you lie to them, they too will to you!

WHO and WHY like to have a chat heart to heart,

Don’t fool around with them, just play your part.

WHAT and WHERE have the world to show,

If your choice is bold then you will grow.

WHEN and HOW are a trifle restless,

Heed them else you will be worthless.

Remember, I added, they are not fortunetellers,

But they sure help discover the winners,

For the one person who can make a difference in your life,

Is none other than you yourself, with a little help from the wise.

(From my book, Your Story Your Way)

Anyone can be Anything

Anyone can be Anything

Yes. You guessed it right. It is the famous line from the latest blockbuster from Disney – Zootopia. The movie makes a mark from the first act itself. But can anyone be anything? I mean, in the real world. I would also like to think so except that there is one big hurdle. In fact, it’s actually a circle – the Circle of Reference. 

If you have seen the movie then you probably would have guessed that I am referring to the second act where Judy’s parents are trying to dissuade Judy from dreaming of becoming a police officer. For those who haven’t seen the movie – Judy is a baby bunny who dreams of becoming a police officer and her parents are aghast because a bunny has never become a police officer! Judy’s father offers Judy advice as soon as he gets to know that Judy wants to be a police officer.

“Judy, you ever wonder how your mom and me got to be so darn happy? Well, we gave up on our dreams, and we settled”, he says. Well, in real life we seldom get it so direct. However, the advice captures the innuendoes that come our way.

A quick look at the inspiring real life stories through generations reveals that many men and women had a circle of reference that mirrored the one in which Judy grew up. But their resolve was so strong that it overpowered the circle of reference to script a story that inspired generations to come. 

We are all part of a circle of reference; sometimes inside the circle and sometimes times a chain-link of the circle. 

When we are inside, lets expand the circle to include those that inspire us to dream and believe in those dreams. 

And when we are a chain-link of the circle ,then be a chain that binds the hopes of those who rely on us and not a chain that bounds their dreams.

Family and friends can thus truly be wind beneath the wings. That’s when we will create our very own utopia and that my dear friends would be a Sunday well spent.

Doubts masquerade as bandits

Doubts masquerade as bandits

Back in 2000, the dot-com boom had gripped me too. I was 27 back then. And like all guys my age, I too was on the lookout for a big idea – an idea that would be my passport to success, riches and fame.  Bingo, I said to myself, when finally a thought rolled over in my head. 

Hemant, what do you think about the idea? I was snapped out of my reverie by the question shot at me by my partner. That’s a good idea, I replied. However, we should discuss this in detail. What are your doubts, he asked. 

Meeting over, I moved back to my desk thinking about those presentations that I made in the year 2000 to the VCs about my million-dollar idea. Lack of details and maybe conviction in what I wanted to build resulted in the VCs sowing seeds of doubt in my head. And doubts multiply at a rapid pace! 

And it was this very experience that I summarized in an entire paragraph on how doubts can derail your plans in my book. But my partner succinctly put that entire paragraph in just one line!  

Doubts masquerade as bandits ready to rob you off your dreams. 

 When I read the line, I was filled with an emotion I can’t really describe. It was the same emotion that stayed with me for years after giving up on my dot-com project to contend with the practicalities of life. 

And all these years, I’ve never had the courage to go close to that emotion but I can never forget the lessons it has taught me.

  1.  You never speak your real doubts. They are way too complicated for someone else to comprehend
  2. You are the only one listening to your real doubts and they make home in your mind and heart
  3. Finally, they are the real bandits covering their face while robbing you so you can never real pin point which particular doubt robbed you 

Questions are springboards. Asking the right ones help you soar higher. However, when the same questions pave way for the doubts, they become quicksand. Remember the same old sinking feeling? I doubt who wouldn’t! 🙂

Extolling virtues but embracing madness

Extolling virtues but embracing madness

Yesterday I saw a post on Facebook – parents want their children to stand out in a crowd but expect them to do what everybody else is doing. 

Ouch. That line hurt the Dad in me. And pronto – I shared the post with my wife. As if sharing the blame would bury the guilt! 

No matter how hard I try (and I try really hard), the madness of the crowd raises its ugly head every now and then.

But hang on. After 24 hours of introspection, one thing became damn clear. It’s not just the parent in us but also the entire individual in us, which behaves that way. Isn’t Facebook doing exactly that?

Posts after posts after posts extol the virtues of the achiever, the hero, and the wise. In fact, almost anyone and anything that we want for ourselves. 

But how many of those virtues that we extol are we ready to embrace? 

It reminds me of the last act in the movie – Scent of a Woman where Al Pacino addresses the disciplinary committee.

He says, “Now I have come to the crossroads in my life. I always knew what the right path was. Without exception, I knew. But I never took it. You know why? It was too damn hard….”

Yes. Extolling virtues is easy ‘cause we are paying lip service to what should be done. Embracing the crowd is easier ‘cause we merge and gods willing never find ourselves. 

Now I am not a proponent of standing out in a crowd rather believe in finding my own place under the sun. But to find that place I need to discover my own path. I need to script my own story my way.