Persevere patiently through struggles

January 29, 2019

A man was frustrated with failures in life. Despite all the hard work, he did not achieve much. Frustrated, he left everything and exiled himself in the woods. There he met a saint, shared his plight and asked for advice. The saint pointed towards two plants – a fern and a bamboo – he had planted some years ago.

“I planted the seeds of the two plants at the same time and took very good care of both. While the fern grew quickly there was no sign of growth in the bamboo for years. But, I did not give up and continued to water and nurture it. By the fifth year, a tiny sprout emerged and within six months, the tree grew a hundred feet tall.” Now, the saint asked the man, “Did the bamboo tree lie dormant for four years only to grow exponentially in the fifth?”

As the man remained quiet thinking about the answer, the saint informed him that the little tree was growing underground, developing a root system strong enough to support its potential for outward growth.
The saint then asked, “Did you know that all the time you had been struggling, you were growing strong roots.” The man learned the value of perseverance and resolved to continue working on his goals.

In my first post of 2019, I chose to share this well-known story to draw three lessons:

– Like plants, human beings are different each having its unique strength. It is not right to make comparisons. A child may be slow in the beginning to shine in studies or sports. This does not mean he lacks potential. He is just different. Parents and teachers need to be patient and keep nurturing the child till he shows up his full potential.

– Growth and results are not always visible. Do not give up. Develop the attitude of seeing failures as foundations or building blocks of success.

– The bamboo tree is flexible. It bends with the wind and does not break. The lesson is simple: if we learn to be flexible, we will not break. We will bounce back from the most difficult times.

Wishing you all a successful 2019!

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Ideas that help in achieving a goal:

April 29, 2017

I have a friend who runs for 5 kilometres a day, seven days a week. Weather does not affect his schedule. It may be too cold, too hot, raining or snowing, he finds a way to go out and run. And, he has been doing it for 23 years.

People like him who strictly follow a schedule to achieve their goal are few. We see a much larger number who start something and then give up. Drop out rates in gym and fitness centres, hobby courses, sport and training courses are always high.

Why is it that some people follow a plan of action and achieve their goals but most don’t?

I asked my friend what keeps him going. His answer was simple, “I enjoy it and actually look forward to running every day.” This sounds too simplistic but if you think it is a profound idea. If we are pursuing something that we look forward to doing, we are more likely to do it. For example, in a weight loss programme, there are several options. A person who likes to socialize will not enjoy running alone on a treadmill. He might be better off playing a sport of his choice, walking with a friend, and doing other group activities.

Most of the physical activity programmes fail because their goals are too ambitious. They are often results-oriented rather that task-oriented. When expected results are not achieved, people get frustrated and give up. In my view, ‘walking 10,000 steps in a day’ is far better than setting a goal of ‘losing 3 kilograms in a month.’

A key point that we often miss is that every success comes after a long process of continued failures in our chosen path. Short and task-specific goal like walking 10,000 steps a day is better in this context as well. It reduces the chances of failures. Even if you do less on a few days, it does not matter. You don’t feel the same sense of failure as you would if you had set yourself a goal of losing 3 kilos in a month.

The final point: we should not allow ourselves exceptions and excuses like not finding time, having too much of work etc. I worked with a consultant recently. We had an important meeting to prepare for and worked till 11 in the night. When we finished and I was looking forward to go to sleep, he told me was going to the gym because he did not want to miss his workout. That should be the spirit.


Find Your Confidence Triggers

January 30, 2017

Confidence, or lack if it, plays a huge role in our life, in determining how far we go. Our confidence shows in ‘I can do it’ attitude; and this pushes us to give our best shot in chasing our dreams.

Most of us begin well, with the excitement of doing or achieving something but a few initial setbacks change it all, making a dent in our confidence.

What can be done to ensure that setbacks and failures do not shatter our confidence?

We must find what triggers our confidence. Confidence triggers may be different for different people. It can be anything that can be done quickly to divert the attention away from the momentary setback(s) and get a sense of fulfillment.

An Olympian used to watch videos of his greatest wins before a crucial match to boost his confidence. Pursuing a hobby and spending time on sports, music, reading etc. can trigger our confidence. A person who is struggling to get a job can do a short online course and this could be a confidence trigger. A person not getting enough job satisfaction can focus more on the tasks that interest him and get the best out of him. Satisfaction of doing some tasks well gives a person positive energy and this allows him/her to attend to the boring and mundane tasks.

Some people stop socializing in their moments of setbacks. It never helps. It is actually counter-productive. There are people in our circle who are trust-worthy and who can give good advice. They may not be able to offer solutions but listen attentively without being judgmental and help us feel more in control of the situation. They also make us see the problem in a different perspective. Most people actually like when someone confides in them. It strengthens relationships.

Don’t analyse your failures too much. The main thing is to act, and do something. Set yourself short and achievable goals and go for them. Success, no matter how small it is, adds to our confidence.  We must make use of our confidence triggers during the moments of setbacks.

Mark Victor Hansen sums it up well, “Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles, and less than perfect conditions. So what? Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident, and more and more successful.”