Can The “Average You” Be Successful?


THE FUN RACE


I had got back home after running The Devil’s Circuit last evening.

Devil’s Circuit is considered to be the BIGGEST obstacle running series in India. A 5 KM run with 15 commando-styled obstacles: bloody logs, torture trenches, barbed wires, swimming icy-cold water, pools of shrill, deadly swings et al.!

I participate in runs occasionally. It is a fun way to test my limits. But this one was different and very rugged!

I was so wasted and yet so happy! (see my family picture right after the run.)

I had brought back with me: a sense of pride, a slight headache and a lot of mud all over me.

After a shower and a failed attempt to wash away the mud from my shoes, I dozed off.Average You


THE RAT RACE


When I woke up, Deepti, my wife, told me that she had been to the chemist to bring some aspirin for me (she’s a sweetheart!). But she looked a bit upset.

The Chemist, Mr. Batra is our neighbor. His son, Raghav and Tanav, our 6 year old son, study in the same grade albeit in different schools (and thankfully so! You’ll agree as you read further).

Deepti told me about the conversation she had with him.

Mr. Batra: “Aren’t you waiting for Tanav’s results, with bated breath?”

Deepti: “Well, kind of. We’re eager to see his teacher and find out how he’s been doing.”

Mr. Batra: “We are so curious to find out if Raghav stood First in the class this time or Second!”

Deepti: “Really? Wow!”

Mr. Batra: “What about Tanav? Does he stand First or Second in his class?” 

(Yes, he had the audacity to ask that!)

Deepti: “Well, they don’t have ranks in his school in junior grades.”

Mr. Batra: “But you would have an idea, won’t you?”

Deepti: “No..”

Now I understood why Deepti was upset. She must have been infuriated with the conversation.

“What would you have said had he asked you?” She asked me.

I told her, “I don’t know about myself but if it was Tanav’s Grandpa, he would surely have said – Tanav is always No. 1. Numero Uno!”

Which he is. And which he always will be! For us – as parents.

Tanav surprises me with his curiosity and his fresh ideas totally amaze me.  He enjoys learning and loves a few subjects a lot. He is a happy kid.

But he is not good at everything! In the usual parlance, he is ‘an average‘, or, at best, ‘an above average‘ child.


BEING “AVERAGE”


Deepti’s conversation with Mr. Batra reminded me of a workshop I had recently attended.

A well-built, tall and confident man, Vikram, had conducted it. It was a fantastic workshop but I remembered what Vikram said in the end:

“I am a very average man.”

A lot of inquisitive heads turned in the audience.

He continued, “I’ve had highs and lows in my career. What has made me successful though is the process I follow rather than my intelligence or my smartness.”

He didn’t need to say that he was average. Why did he? But by doing so, he had done me and many others a huge favor.

I always thought that being average was a sign of weakness and shame. And here was Vikram, acknowledging that he was average and, yet, apparently very successful!

Everyone’s perspective changed. Vikram was successful not because he was gifted, smart or intelligent, but despite his flaws and despite being average. He was like one of us in the room.


WHAT IS MY PROCESS?


What process was Vikram referring to? Did Tanav have one? Would Tanav be successful?

These questions were bothering me.

Eureka! There was, indeed, one mantra (call it process) that often worked both for Tanav and me:

  1. Think of what you want to do.
  2. Start doing it.
  3. Finish it.
  4. Praise yourself for what you did.

Sounds simple, right?

It is!

And it worked! It kept us in the ‘upward spiral of confidence’.

Only problem was that we weren’t intentional about it. I decided to be so now and not give up when going got tough or failures happened!

Do you have a process that works for your child? If not, install one today. Commit to the process. You will be surprised at the wonderful things your child can create. And success will follow.

The best part of a blogpost is the discussion it triggers. If you liked this post, then show the love by sharing it further and leaving a comment.

What A Game Of Monopoly Taught Me!

I got up from my desk and asked Tanav, my 6 year old son, “C’mon buddy, let’s play something?

It was the kind of asking parents do after a sudden sense of guilt of not spending enough time with their kids.

Children are so forgiving. An adult version would have replied, “No thank you! If you don’t have any time for me, then don’t expect me to have time for you!

But Tanav loved the idea, “Shall we play Monopoly?“.

Sure, but you’ll have to teach me how to play!“, I said.

Really? You don’t know how to play Monopoly?“, He asked.

No, I don’t. Will you teach me?” I felt ashamed and happy at the same time. Ashamed of not knowing the game and happy to see Tanav’s face lit up perhaps at the thought of teaching his Dad.


NO PAIN NO GAIN


This version of Monopoly was based on Children’s Entertainment Park.

Monopoly
Junior Monopoly

The person who loses all his money first loses.” He said seriously.

I said, “Really?

Yes!“, He replied sounding like he was sharing a trade secret.

We started playing the game.

I noticed he was not buying anything. When I asked, he said, “Remember, the person who loses all his money first loses?

Yeah, but if you don’t buy anything, you won’t be able to grow your money and what you have will run out with time.“, I said.

I, on the other hand, went on a buying spree – I bought a Roller Coaster, a Mini Golf course and a Merry Go Round.

I felt I was building an empire like MJ’s Neverland. Our light bulbs flickered a bit confirming that Michael Jackson felt uncomfortable in his grave. 

Meanwhile, Tanav appeared very happy seeing me lose my money.

The tables turned soon enough for Tanav though. He was spending money every time he landed on my properties – which were too many for his liking.

This was perhaps the rare occasion when he wasn’t happy with his otherwise favorite rides.

He realized his folly and changed his strategy.  Soon, he too possessed a Helicopter Ride and Loop-the-Loop.

He jumped with excitement each time I had to pay him to take his rides.

Being a parent is a blessing. We never have to worry about losing. We win either way. I let Tanav win.


WAKE UP CALL


Tanav might have learnt something from me, but for me it was as if this woke me from deep sleep.

I had been very busy being busy. I was not doing what I had been preaching Tanav.

I had not taken any action although I had been thinking about investing for children’s future since long. If thinking alone could take one forward, I would be among the front runners!

Money my wife and I had kept aside was deteriorating in value without being invested. I had been acting a bit like Tanav holding on to his money.

Tanav is still learning but what excuse do I have?


THINK BIG, START SMALL, BEGIN NOW


“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. But the second best time is NOW!”

The moment one begins, a guiding force from above comes to help. That happened with me the very next day at work.

A colleague suggested an investment plan which he had chosen for his children.

I searched on Google and several options popped up in front of me.

I got a call from a financial adviser the same evening.

The information overload can lead one into further procrastination though.

“Procrastination is my sin, it brings me naught but sorrow;
I know that I should stop it, in fact I will, … but tomorrow!”

For every plan you select, a seemingly better one is available. The point is that ‘either one of those plans’ is better than ‘not investing at all’.

I am glad I finally made two investment decisions for my children’s and our own future.

Kids Grow Up So Fast
Kids Grow Up So Fast

Pheww! I just saved myself. Tanav and Sohana, my two year old daughter, would be grown up soon. They would have asked me why didn’t I invest knowing so well that, “..if you don’t buy anything, you won’t be able to grow your money and what you have will run out with time.

I hope you too have saved yourself from this embarrassment?

If you like this post, then show the love by sharing the investment decisions you have made that let you sleep peacefully at night.

I Know Who Can Help You!


That Evening:


Deepti, my wife, rushed to get Sameer, our friendly neighborhood doctor. I had told her a while back something that sounded like,I am dying!

I haven’t died before but I assumed it couldn’t be worse than this.

Sameer walked upstairs and asked me how I was feeling.


How was I feeling?


It was very hard to describe.  I tried rambling something:

  • a pain in the stomach and ankle ..and everywhere else!
  • not enough oxygen is going into my system!
  • I’m sleepy all the time ..except at night!

What I should have told him that I didn’t:

  • I was scared – of everything and everyone
    • ..of doing things I loved to do!
    • ..of being successful (funny, coz’ I am nowhere close to that!)
    • ..of looking people in the eye
    • ..of my own self
  • I was living in a trance state
    • ..can’t clearly differentiate between reality and imaginations
    • ..have no interest in anything, not food, not life
  • I was running away
    • worried about home at work and about work at home
    • hate to say this but from my faith and God!
  • I didn’t trust anyone
    • not myself and not even my loved ones
    • no one else in this bad bad world
    • not the ground below my feet which shakes

Why Not Share the Truth?


I kept insisting that I had physical conditions – breathlessness, drowsiness, body pain… but hid the morbid feelings, the fear of dying and yet feeling a need for it. That I had a constant longing to hear the sound of  breathing of my loved ones.

It seems funny now but I didn’t see myself in the mirror at a store’s changing room. I pinched myself to check if I was alive. I was! It was just that the mirror was inclined at such an angle.

I didn’t believe it could happen to me. Perhaps, I feared I would speak myself into believing that I was depressed. Besides, what will they think?

“I am not going mad, okay! and what about the heavy breathing and this pain, is that in my head too?”


The Journey:


I saw many specialists and generalists. Several tests.

Anti-anxiety pills, Yoga, forced exercises followed.

One doctor even suggested that I install cameras at home. That’s what he was doing to be at peace,“Look, here’s my iPhone that shows real-time images of my house’s front and back gates and porch.”

One pointed out of his window and asked, “What do you see?

Then said, “You will see what you want to see. Either see the beauty or the dirt.

I came back and cursed him for the fee he charged for giving me that Stupid Gyan!

I can understand why I was skirting the issue. What I can’t understand is why the doctors were shying away. After all, they can talk about anything with little hesitation. If you’ve ever been to a urologist or gynecologist, then you know what I mean!


Thank God It’s Over!


I felt tired of it all. But Deepti didn’t ever give up.

She pushed me into seeing the nth doctor. This guy was different though. He said it on my face, “This is called Depression“.

A few tears rolled down Deepti’s cheeks.

I felt lighter.

Doctor added, “If there is one person who can help you out, then that is You. Medicines will help but only if you help yourself!.

When he said this, something changed in me. I guess I had accepted for the first time that it can happen to me. That I needed to own this for myself. It’s easy to get used to becoming dependent on others.

[bctt tweet=”Nobody can bring you peace but yourself!”]

I also got treated for Vertigo. I am still not sure if I was suffering from it or not.

It took a lot of time to become completely normal. 2014. Thank God you’re over!

I imagine my wife during this time. It should have felt like living with the dead or even worse: living with someone who’s hallucinating and perhaps has suicidal or murderous tendencies!

She didn’t feel any of this. She was concerned but completely normal. More patient that she has ever been. More confident of me than I was about myself. There was one question which she asked daily, “How are you feeling? On a scale of 1 to 10?”

My scores gradually moved up.


If This Sounds Familiar:


You are not alone. Face it. Own it.

Hang in there.

Have faith.

There is one person who can surely bring you back to life: You!

..just remember: This too shall pass!

What Goes Around Comes Around!

I heard this Justin Timberlake song a few days back as an old playlist played in Random mode in my car. The title of the song remained with me long after it played. It made a lot of sense and I realized that one notices that even more as one’s life progresses.

Aren’t we sometimes in doubt if what we are doing will serve any useful purpose at all? What is it that keep us doing our best, relentlessly, day after day after day?


Hear it from my horse’s (..err, I mean my colt’s) mouth


Last night, before sleep time, I asked my 5 year old son, Tanav, “Do you love Mom?

He said, “Yes, of course, I love her a lot!

I asked, “Why do you love her so much?

To which he said, “She’s very cute!

I have this habit of pushing (as some of you may know by now), “Why do you find her so cute?

Tanav said, “..well, because, she is a sweetheart.” (I sometimes feel that Tanav can now sense my train of follow-up questions and kind of enjoys to drag a tad bit himself.)

Okay, what is that one quality in her that you like the most?” I jumped to the point.

Mom is a sweetheart because she does so much and does it all so calmly!

I was now curious to know what Tanav thought was the No. 1 reason he loved me, assuming he did.

After a pause, I asked, “Tanav, Do you love me?

..more than anything else in this world!“, Tanav replied.

..so, far so good“, I thought.

Okay, and what is that one thing that makes you love me so much?“, I asked.

I love Papa because he teaches me so many things!” He said.

That one line touched my heart. Kids always speak the truth. Okay, not always, but you know when they lie, and thankfully they don’t learn the art of deceiving until they become adults.


All of a sudden, all that #$@! makes sense


I smiled. That one line… and everything that I had ever done ever since I was blessed with children made so much more sense.

I have intentionally always walked the extra few yards in making efforts to make learning fun and interesting for all children I know. I am not calling it a mile because that would be an exaggeration. Most parents do that. Moreover, I learn and find it so much fun myself!

The electronic game version of 20 Questions which I bought from Amazon US once again felt worth it. Paid 10$ for shipping over a 15$ game.

Interactive World Map recommended by a friend in Australia (Shef), purchased by another friend in US (Jassi) and sent to me through another colleague’s wife (Subodh’s). Thank you guys! Although Tanav hasn’t really got the hang of it yet but I’m sure that’ll happen soon. (The wait sometimes is worth it too!)

You baby can read CD serieswhich I purchased when I was in Hawaii for work. I paid about $125 but the shipping didn’t happen until after I had left for India. I arranged to have it shipped from my Hotel to my cousin (Sur) in Kentucky. She, in turn, got it shipped to me. All that effort and time, once again, felt worth it!

I have spent a lot of time, money and effort in finding out the best books, movies, games, programs, podcasts  et al. Anything which I think could help develop that curiosity of learning in my kids.

I am pretty sure all parents do that. However, sometimes we aren’t sure if all that would help or not. We feel discouraged and demotivated.

Everything happens for a reason but we only realize that as we progress on the life’s timeline. The dots can only be connected backwards as Steve Jobs once said.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. Because believing that will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path.


Keep Walking…


Keep doing what you do. Have faith. Even if you feel discouraged sometimes. Do it with your heart’s commitment. It will always bear fruit. If not now, then later. But it will!

I hope you like this post. If you do, then go back and ask your kid, Why does he or she love you so much?

I am sure their answer will bring you a smile. All that you have been doing all these years will suddenly make even more sense.

Just like it did for my wife and I last night. 

What Is Your Life’s Calling?


When the Grand-Mamma Bear is Sick


Mom was feeling sick on Friday morning last week. She has diabetes for over 10 years but has been managing it well.

“Mom, please check your blood sugar levels!”, I suggested the obvious.

The reading on the scale, as Mom held the machine, shocked the hell out of us: 534!

And that when she was still empty stomach! Mom felt worse simply by looking at that reading.

I panicked. Deepti, my wife, brings me sanity whenever I lose it (which is every time something unusual happens). I love her for that. She organized things quickly and we rushed to the BLK Hospital nearby.

Within minutes, must have been 6 AM, we were in the emergency room of the hospital. They were quick to do the required checks. Doctor advised that Mom should be admitted.


Get-One Get-One More!

4th Floor


Mom was in the hospital for 6 days now. It wasn’t clear when she would be discharged. While the big problems in life dance around to get our attention, life also presents some smaller, cuter ones as add-ons.

Tanav, my five year old son, hadn’t seen Grandmom for over 6 days. He wanted to see her.

Simple, but not really. They don’t let children in the hospital. But Tanav doesn’t care, “I want to meet Grandmom. Period.

He was a bit under the weather too. Mum felt that his sickness had something to do him not being able to see her. Smiles.


Mission of the Day


I asked Tanav, “Are you up for a mission?” 

“What’s that, Dad?”, he sounded interested.

“Mission Meeting Grandmom!”, I said

Really? Can I..?”

“Yeah, but it’s not going to be easy. You have tried getting in the hospital when Sohana, your sister, was unwell. They didn’t let you in, remember?

“Yes, I remember.” he said with a straight face.

I prepped him up which brought back the smiles.

What’s a mission which is easy. Kids understand that better than us adults. Tanav was super-excited.


Try, Try, Try Again…


Deepti tried to sneak Tanav in from the attendant elevator.

That didn’t work. “Children are not allowed to use the attendants lift.” Wisdom words (as if we didn’t know).

Deepti is a rules person and easy to be said NO to. Except, of course, when I am the one saying NO.  She will argue that I am no better than her in this regard.

One starts to see things differently when the motivations behind the mission are strong.

Tanav and I walked towards the patient elevator.

I noticed something about the way Tanav was walking. A very confident gait! I would have let him in, had I been the security guard. But that didn’t impress the officer on duty.

“He is going to see his new born sister.” I tried acting smart knowing the birthing suites were on the same, 4th floor.

Guard’s reply was, “Congratulations! But I need to see Doctor’s permission letter to let him in.”

The Permission NoteI changed stance, “Please, he really needs to see his new baby sister.”

But, that didn’t work either.

We tried to take the stairs but no luck.

Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.

We decided to go to the Front Desk Manager, Mr. Jitendar. I told him the truth and asked for permission only for 15 minutes.

There’s something about speaking the truth – it works!

Mr. Jitendar started writing a note and I heard him say, “I can only let him in for 5 minutes.” 

Well, we happily accepted what we had got. Hi-Fives followed Thank yous!

Tanav held that note proudly, like a valued possession. He showed it off, even to those who didn’t ask for it.

I let Mom and Tanav have some time together. Seeing them, I realized that the efforts we’d put in were so worth it.

You won’t always have the power to make life fair, but you always have the power to bring some smiles.


What is Your Life’s Calling, Today


Mom is fine now and back home. Thank you, God! And this episode has taught me a lesson. 

I used to wonder what my calling in life was. I have learnt now that it’s okay to just know what life is calling for me to do today. As long as I act on that, I am doing my duty. That, at least until I find my true calling. 

So, what is your life’s calling? .. Oops, I mean: What is your life’s calling, TODAY?

If you like this post, please comment/ share/ tweet. I would look forward to knowing your thoughts.

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Congratulations! You Have a Gift

Saesha, my 8 year old niece, is a born artist. She draws her heart out on paper. I can’t think of anyone else in the family who has this unique ability. Congratulations! We have a gift.

US Department of Education defines Giftedness as the “Children with outstanding talent who perform or show the potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared with others of their age, experience, or environment.”

These gifts could be in intellect, academics, creative, art or leadership ability.

Every child is special but is your child gifted?  Read the stories of two of my friends who were gifted.

Congratulations! You Have a Gift.
Congratulations! You Have a Gift.

Story of Mukti


Mukti sketched exceptionally well. All her classmates knew that. But when she entered 3rd grade, something happened which changed the course of her life.

That day, Mukti had done a sketch for her new teacher. She handed the sketch to the teacher and waited in anticipation. The teacher examined the sketch and what she did next surprised everyone. She tore the sketch apart and threw the paper bits on Mukti’s face. Mukti has never forgotten what the teacher said, “You liar! No 7 year old can make such a beautiful sketch!” 

Tears came rolling down Mukti’s cheeks. None of the classmates could gather the courage to stand up to her defense.

She never drew a sketch again.


Story of Kshitij


Kshitij, my friend from school, sang very well. I can’t think about him without thinking about him singing. He sang at the school assembly, in the playground and in the bus. Everywhere!

He was once caught singing to the class when the class was supposed to be doing an assignment. Fortunately, the teacher liked his voice and let him finish singing.

She said, “You have a wonderful voice. Class, complete the work quickly if you want to hear another song from Kshitij!” 

Everyone clapped. Kshitij’s confidence knew no bounds.


Fast forward 20 years


Kshitij is a successful playback singer. He has performed at coveted musical shows like “K for Kishore”, “Indian Idol” and “SA-RE-GA-MA-PA”. He has worked with many top playback singers. He has sung for Bollywood movies and has debuted as a Music Director. He is currently off to Dubai for a performance.

Mukti, on the other hand, is doing a standard IT job. She has recently woken up to the fact that she once dreamt of being an artist. She wants to pursue her dream now.


WHAT I LEARNT


1. Tune in!

I need to stay tuned in to my child. I need to keep looking for their areas of giftedness. Okay, agreed, not every child will be gifted. Reality. And that’s fine.

Whether or not your child is gifted, they surely have strengths. That, at least to me, is a gift too!

Tanav, my 5 year old son’s strength is that he really uses his mind. He just can’t cram. Good for him but never an easy day for us. We have to have reasoning for everything we teach him. A small price to pay to further strengthen his strength.

2. Teach Them to Keep Walking…

My child will meet several people along the journey of life. People like Mukti’s teacher or Kshitij’s. I need to keep them prepared for those times when someone tries to shatter their confidence.

Keep reminding them that Good things are coming down the road. Just don’t stop walking. 

3. Do What You Can.

I want to play my part in helping Saesha become a great artist. I am not an expert myself but I can look for opportunities to show her works of Picasso, Michelangelo and other great artists.

4. Treasure the Gift! 

Less than 2% people in the world are truly gifted. I need to treasure my child’s gifts and strengths!

“Don’t caste your pearls before swines!”

Never ever ever ever ever ever let your child’s gift get in the hands of those who don’t value it or, worse still, ridicule or reject it.


WAKEY! WAKEY!


Stay tuned to know if your child has a gift. Open the package. Instill Confidence. Be a Guide. Treasure the gift. Praise. Celebrate. Don’t ever let the gift go waste. Will you rise to the occasion?

Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams, for when dreams go, life is a barren field frozen with snow.

If you find this post interesting, please post your comments. I will look forward to knowing your views.

Change Your Whole Life


Teacher’s Note


“24.FEB.14. Please meet me tomorrow in the class at 1:00 in the afternoon. Thank you. M. Grover.” 

Tanav, my five year old son’s teacher, Mrs. Grover, had written this note in his diary.

Teacher's note

Curiosity could have killed us so we sent Mrs. Grover an SMS right away.

“Hello Madam, Good evening. I will meet you tomorrow but why do you want to see us?” 

It’s funny how extra-careful we are with the spellings while communicating with our children’s teachers.

“Tanav’s performance in class!” Mrs. Grover replied.


Background


We had just got free from two close family weddings. The mood of excitement and fun suddenly changed into one of somber.


The Meeting


Deepti, my wife, met Mrs. Grover at 1 PM sharp.

What is also ridiculous is our highest levels of punctuality when it comes to meetings with children’s teachers. 

I expected Mrs. Grover to be considerate.  Perhaps she was. Following messages were driven home:

  • “Students can count up to 100. Tanav can’t even write correctly up to 20!”
  • “Tanav doesn’t listen no matter how loudly I shout!”
  • “Tanav hasn’t learnt anything in Prep!”

This last point added insult to injury. After all, he was just one month away from getting to next grade.

She also said, “I hope everything is okay at home?”

Her question was asked with such a conviction that I was tempted to think,“What was wrong at home?”

Well, all was right at home. We were busy with the weddings. Tanav had missed school. Excitement at home had left no room for studies. That’s it.


Ping-Pong Blame Game


Self-blame soon gave way to blaming the teacher.

Mrs. Grover’s tone could be better.

Is that some kind of joke? At the end of the session, you tell us that our child hasn’t learnt a thing!

If the child hasn’t learnt, that means the teacher hasn’t taught.

 (This last one is my Dad’s favorite. Tried and tested on me when I was in Primary school.)

Well, all that boiled down to one thing. We had to change something and soon.


What to do?


The obvious solution was to make Tanav study long hours. Show him the stick perhaps. We did that for a while and all it led to was more frustrations.

Obvious solutions are usually the least effective.

Our solution was flawed. For one, it was against the law of nature.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished so beautifully.

Second, the stick may or may not lead to success but it would certainly lead to pain.  The last thing I want is that Tanav has good grades at the cost of him being sad.

We learn best in the moments of enjoyment.

We decided to change just a little. 2% perhaps. We identified the 2% which could change the game for Tanav:

  1. 30 minutes of daily study
  2. Friendship with the teacher

We had to work our butts off to make Tanav stick his butt to his chair. He would be thirsty or would need to use the loo. You know the feeling.

Children are turned off the moment they hear the word, Homework. Homework is shown as a villain in cartoon programs they watch. We decided to call it 30 Minutes with Tanav instead.

Studies are boring. Learning is fun.

Have you noticed that the Google servers have slowed down in last few months? It is because Deepti has gone bananas searching online to find the most interesting ways for Tanav to learn.

I’ll take some credit too. See, if I can make daily chores interesting, you can’t even imagine what I can do with learning.


Results


Yesterday when I reached home, I saw Tanav writing something. Being the over-enthusiastic-over-nothing types, I yelled, “Hey Tanav! What’s up?

“Papa, please don’t disturb me. I am doing 30 minutes with Tanav.”

I apologized.

“No problem. I will speak with you after I am done.” He said.

I was glad.

It has been a little over a month since Mrs Grover’s note. Tanav can count up to 100 and backwards. He can write the before and after numbers. He has made friends with Mrs. Grover and that isn’t even the best part. The best part is that he is loving it all.

Sometimes, we think we want to change our whole life. But all we really need to change is the 2%. That 2% which, in turn, can change everything in our life.

For Tanav, it is 30 minutes of daily learning. (2% of 24 hours is ~ 30 minutes). Where is that 2% in your life?

‘D’ for Dance

 

Everyone has heard of the BIG FAT Indian wedding. And it’s even more so, if it is a Punjabi one.

We recently celebrated my brother-in-law’s wedding. There was a lot of excitement in the family and although the parent’s did most work, we thought we were busy too.

Amidst all this, my wife, Deepti, had an idea, “We should do a dance performance for the newly-wed couple.”

I affirmed that this was a superb idea.

Dinky and I-2

A few days passed and then, reality set in. It now appeared like a daunting task. One that would involve so many decisions, – hire a trainer or prepare on our own, which dance form given our body’s (in-) flexibility levels and so on.. 

Besides, we would be working and have two kids to manage. I was very skeptical about being able to pull this off. This idea had every chance of dying prematurely just like most ideas do. 

Thankfully, something changed.

Deepti asked me to take charge. “Manage it like a project and just make it work”, she said. I felt a sense of ownership. Giving up was not an option any more. I started asking, “How to make it happen?” rather than “Whether it would work or not?”.

Ask the right questions, for our questions create a mindspace where we spend all our time

Deepti, of course, helped in every way possible – from searching for the trainers, to doing the cost-benefit, to selecting the songs. We decided that a trainer closer home would suit us better. It was December and it’d be tough to go to a distant place in the chill. Our trainer made it even easier by suggesting that he could come to our place instead. That was so Wow.

But there were several other occasions too when we wanted to give up. It is so easy to give up.

I was not even feeling well at one point and the last thing I wanted to do was practice my dance moves. We still kept going, slowly but steadily. I think it was our motivation that kept us going: We would be so proud to have danced for the couple that is so dear to us. It would make fond memories that we will cherish forever.

There was another roadblock of getting the song clip from our trainer. We had moved to my bro-in-law’s place and were busy with other aspects of the wedding. Once again, our trainer came to our rescue. Then, a techie friend of mine figured a way to carry the songs to the venue where we were supposed to perform.

At the time when we were supposed to shake a leg, we got busy with the guests and having our photographs clicked. I don’t know about Deepti but something kept telling me even then to forget about our dance

  • We haven’t rehearsed enough!
  • What if we forgot the steps?
  • It’s embarrassing to face such a large audience. 

But then, there was a motivating inner voice too, which told me the opposite –

  • Don’t even think of giving up after having come so far!
  • Do everything possible to make your idea a success!
  • Remember your motivation.

It dawned on me that it didn’t matter how perfectly we danced. All that mattered was that we danced and made it entertaining. We were prepared enough to do that.

A good plan today is better than a perfect one tomorrow. 

Our good plan was in place. I mustered some courage (read: gulped down my drink) and whispered into Deepti’s ear, “Let’s do it!”

She said, “Okay!”

It was as if she was waiting for me to ask. We were all set. An announcement was made. We were on the stage, yes, dancing. We were having a lot of fun. I remembered our trainer’s tip, “Just enjoy and sing along and it’ll be easy.”

When our dance ended, we hugged. I heard an applause. We had inspired a few other performances too, including our five year old son, Tanav’s.

Some appreciations followed.

I am not sure if people liked our show or if they were just being nice. But I am sure we will look back at this and it will always bring smiles.

They say that “If you desire something with all your heart, the whole world conspires to fulfill your desire.” That proved to be true in this case too.  

Our best wishes to the newly-wed couple: Your love is beautiful and inspiring and we look forward to seeing it grow. Always. 

How SMART Are You?

Most of us already know the what and the how of SMART goal-setting. Yes, the one that says that in order to achieve goals, one must set Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-bound goals. A lot has been written about it already. So, I decided to write about taking goal-setting to another level – from setting good goals, to setting great goals.

Good, after all, is not good enough!

In order to set and achieve BIG-FAT-Hairy-Audacious goals, you have to follow a different and smarter SMART rule:

  • Significant: Your goals should be significant. And not just to you, but also to those around you. It must touch lives! One’s definition of significant is tied to the depth of one’s own mind. Significant to one may be insignificant to another. If you dream dreams that anyone can easily find ways of realizing, it’s not really a dream! Ask yourself, “Have I dreamt the heights of heaven?”, “Have I seen the sky?”, “Have I seen the man (or woman) I want to become?” Once you have the answer, then ask, Have I dreamt the ladder to get there?” In the Bible, angels had the wings to fly but they still used the ladder. To connect, one has to take the steps. Every dream has a ladder. People sometimes say that they can see it, but can’t accomplish it. That’s because you must dream your ladder also. Many of us dream dreams without the ladder and then you wonder why we can’t accomplish it. Sleep a day. Dream ladder.
  • Meaningful: Eloquence is a major characteristic of  a leader. What ever you can’t communicate, people cannot follow. Why did people follow Barack Obama? Eloquence. He was articulate. He raised the largest amount of money ever for the presidential elections. He articulated his vision … Articulate yours, make it meaningful, by communicating it intelligently…even to people who seem to have a higher intelligence quotient than you.
  • Attractive: Make your dreams attractive. If the devils are attracted to beauty, good people will be attracted to beauty. Excellence costs money. Pay the price. Who wants to marry a woman that’s not attractive. Who wants to marry a man that’s not attractive. It’s not about how you look, its about what you have made of yourself. Make your dream attractive. Color it. Paint it. Package it. Brand it. Re-brand it. Package and re-package, brand and re-brand. Keep branding or re-branding as long as there is life. Your dreams don’t come true just by doing one thing. It is a process. Input into that process. Pay the price!
  • Record-setting: Who have I came to beat? Who am I comparing myself with? I am successful compared to who? It’s about the depth of your vision, not about comparison or bragging. One must find the record on ground. Set goals that will break records.  Start from the family – Who is the richest, or who is the most spiritual? Are they not coming to you for prayers in your family? If the answer is Yes, then look out. Begin in your mind. These are not things that you tell people. But you know it. You know that they are now looking at you, looking up to you, or looking down at you.
  • Treasure it! In the Bible, Jesus said, “Don’t caste your pearls before swines!”. Don’t waste your time trying to convince those who have already written you off. Swines represent those who ridicule you or reject your ideas the moment you share those with them. Don’t put forth our greatest ideas in the direction of someone who has no other purpose than to trample it or discourage you. You got this with the whole of your heart. Don’t share it with everybody and anybody. This is not about arrogance. You can’t treasure what you have not verified. Verify it with your carefully chosen team, and then treasure it. Aim a place of leadership where you do not need everyone’s confirmation.

They say a tree grows as long as it lives. I wish the same for you. I hope the above ideas will help you along the way. This post should allow seeds to enter your mind that will make your greatest dreams come to you and should guide you in realizing them.

I owe this post to the Nigerian church leader who shared the above ideas in a seminar. I couldn’t catch his name but his words still ring in my ears. This had to be written, because I didn’t find this any where else on the internet.

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