Ladder Games

Ladder of success, a treacherous path for lovers and professionals alike, has been a figment of literature as well as prelude to great many management books. While Romeo and the Students of Bihar Board had it literally, the rest of us see it as a novel idea which is so intangible and blissful, that to envisage the reality(oxymoron) of it ensnares our lives like a whiff of crushed ‘ganja’ ensnares a pothead.

Ever since I was a kid, I heard this line on and off, “To climb the ladders of success isn’t everyone’s doing, for it requires hardwork and persistence”. Unfortunately no one seems to know where can one really find this ladder, climb it and be done with the damn expression. I am as uncertain about my future as a Bushmen(from the Gods Must Be Crazy fame) running around in the middle of the Kalahari in search of water. Lest I give into the temptation of joining the rat race, I find it hard to decide what I am meant to do. Today I was reading an article titled “How do I handle it When People trash me” by James Altucher. As the title suggests,James had some issues and he was just passing on the wisdom learnt of not letting fools drag you down to competition at what they do best. In the article, he just mentioned that in the darkness of the negativity shrouded by misguided people, you might lose track of your ladder of success. That is only if you were on it in the first place. So, do you see of all that goes the idea of being on the ladder of success. You need to find it first, climb it later. If you are lucky, there wouldn’t really be people to pull you back and hopefully none to push you down. So goes the expression,’let go of people who drag you down’, for falling off that ladder isn’t an idea to cherish.

Prospect-Retrospect

 Things seem difficult in prospect but easier in retrospect

My mind blows over the idea of what lies ahead in life, but before I psych out and punch walls, my brain does a reboot to shunt itself out of the heated moment by craving for external stimuli, i.e. TV or video-games. That’s how I roll these days. If you are wondering to what the intro line really means and how have I gone about establishing a context with my panic moments, well, that line actually defines you and me, and the rest of the 99.9% people on this planet who are aspiring billionaires. We all want to be rich, eat great food and date wonderful people, but have no idea of how to translate those ideas into action. I, for example, have a tendency to spell out a thousand reasons not to do something and then curse my fate of not getting it, inspite of being worthy of it. There is a paradox in what the mind believes and what it is willing to do, constantly telling you to get your shit together and act, yet not letting you budge your feet another inch on the morning jog. I hate the brain.

Anyways, lets delve deeper into the realm of inaction, where the likes of us trod into anonymity, letting our complacency make of for what is lost. I have been indecisive for so long that I struggle at the thought of having a career for myself. I had to retake an exam a year back, which I am yet to do. I planned taking it again about six months back, set out on finding the right set of coaches and even payed one in advance for a couple of classes. However, I cancelled all that and now six months on, I am back of square one. So ensnaring is my fright of action, that even when I take action, I feel trapped by my own decision.  Then I try to wriggle out of it like, seeking validation for my wrong judgments.

Well, just in case you are planning to write me off, I would like to establish that not every aspect of my life has gone astray due to my resilience in choosing to be in the shell. I have been progressing in the health domain, and I now can boast of running around 6kms at a stretch, without blacking out every time . My hospital trips have been less frequent, and the I no more spend time at the gym staring rolling over the medicine ball.  Though I am scared to do things, I have come to realise that to revel in genius , I need to get things started off first. Its tough, but then its better than being no where at all.

Instant Gratification

“You have completely lost it.” the rapacious December Playboy issue on my desk spoke out loud.
“You need to get things back in control man, its high time you do” the TV remote control added on.

“Yeah. That also means that you need to stay away from that girl, she seems to be an awful distraction to your life. ” came a sound from  nowhere.

As I looked around to check the source, the JBL Pulse flinched. It then stretched out its hand shyly, and pointed to the computer. The Computer was rather rampant in defending itself, and gyrated about to shake itself out of screen saver. The culprit taking a jab at my girlfriend was in sight, FACEBOOK.

“You of all the people talk about distraction” I asked it.
“C’mon, the onus lies on you. I wasn’t the one who dragged you onto me, and had you slay over and over, viciously clambering over the lives of others.” said FB
“First of all, that just sounds wrong. Second, you are due for deactivation now”

Such was my irritation, that in a sudden blip, the screen went off . I didn’t want to listen to it anymore, and then power cord was just a plug away

Another interview, and another rejection. They weren’t mutually exclusive events anymore, but buddies who seemed to be too pally. Poor academics and a pathetic ECA seemed to add-on to the already near abysmal existence.

Except for the JBL, the rest of the folks had all seen me grow up, and now were concerned about the way things were in my life. It was only in the past few years that I had befriended these wretched souls, who were otherwise stationery pieces of the living room set. From an ace student to a grace student,what had gone wrong in the past couple of years, was I not good enough or was I too scared to deal with the increasing pressure. I no more juggled between assignments and commitments, rather left them all than just choose one. I have lost my capability to slug it out for hours and hours, to practice and to improve. 

The TV remote is right, I do need to take things in control. But where exactly am I going wrong?

I don’t think I have to think too hard along these lines. The reason sits right there on my face as I write this article, patience and instant gratification. I lack the patience to give words to my ideas and I want immediate results in the form of quality and good reviews. Patience is a virtue, when exercised reaps benefits, when abhorred leads to loss. In my case, my patience in pursuit of goals, combined with my love for instant gratification seemed to have swayed me on a different line altogether. My efforts are diluted in quality and quantity, my goals are utterly vague since I have no means to believe that I can do better. Since I no more believe in myself, I am here surrounded my bunch of unnecessary distractions which offer no potent solution to any issue in life. It’s like delayed reaction to problems as a means of instant gratification. Defer the problem now, enjoy the moment and who knows, something might magically work out in the future.

TV, computer and mobile are my best friends, while the books bite dust in the corner of the room.I remember reading that the TVs are like lullabies, which force the mental activity to zero down. In contrast, reading a book is more challenging, since it involves observing, contemplating and inferring. Like panda on streak, I have been scratching off work off my list, and making room for more pleasure than working towards a better future. That’s the disease of instant gratification

 

 

 

Dilemma Called Life

There are some glory days and moments of epiphany, when your life transcribes itself into something trivial yet empowering, that you feel enlightened. Sitting on the ledge across the park that day, I had that feeling. So, I asked the random stranger beside me a question just to work along that idea.

“Do you see the pillar, Sir?” I asked

“Yes” He replied in a quivering manner, clearly startled by my question.

Encouraged by his monosyllabic reply, I further added
” Well, then imagine a line between me and the pillar. Now, think of it as the line of life and the pillar being the goal. The goal here is death, and the journey to it is life, as you live it. If you were me, how would you go about such a journey to reach that pillar?”

“I guess I would walk towards the pillar, with resilience and fortitude bearing in mind the ultimate destination of life. ” came his reply.

I felt that he drew the question to be along the lines of his own commitment in life, and thus, hardwork to achieve success became the undertone of his reply.This is a standard answer, I thought . I am sure he didn’t really want to appear too candid with a stranger. Anyways, I perched him more, and drew him onto the undertones of my life.

“Well, Sir, are you telling me that you would walk straight to that goal with your conscious belief telling you of its presence right at the end. Don’t you think, it gives the phrase ‘ staring at death’ a different connotation. How would you enjoy life, if ‘death’ influences your path? How would you live your life, if your goal instills a sense of fear than motivation. ”

” I think overcoming that fear is what makes people successful and that is how the ultimate goal is achieved. ” he replied.

“Well, I like your view, but I don’t see death as a goal, it is just a destination. This destination is an inevitable one, something that is conceivable by the mind, but is accepted without protest as a natural process. Fearing it would be like fearing success. Success comes through arduous incessant efforts in life and is meant to be celebrated. Same is the case with death, the only difference is that we don’t remain to celebrate our life, we just celebrate it in spirit with our loved ones” I spurt out with an enthusiastic smile.

The stranger seemed perturbed, probably by the tone of my voice or just because his idea of a Sunday morning walk didn’t feature him being badgered by collegiate curiosity . Anyways, he chose to stay seated which was a promising thing. So, I continued.

” I meant to take this symbolism to prove another point as well. I see that pillar, so do you, but I wouldn’t just walk towards the pillar. In fact, like a slow cycling race, I would twist and twirl by legs around, run in a zig zag manner, to make it to the pillar. This is not because I mean to delay my achieving that goal , but because there is so much to life than death. My dashing through the park over the lush green grass, ducking down under a Frisbee and plunging my head into the sprinkler’s spray is a symbol of the journey that I mean to undertake in life. I wish to enjoy life as I go on than stay sad about the lost opportunities and relations.”

” So how is this slow cycling race going on for you, not in ideation but in reality?” He asked.

” Honestly, It’s been fine. I have come to believe that if not inherently,one should force himself to an optimistic outlook. Maybe it might not work initially, but over a period of time, when this optimism stays in your head all the time, it starts affecting the way you operate. Yous instinctive thoughts are more positive, and you attract positivity. So, basically it all amounts to more zig-zag sprints in life, without much concern for what lies ahead.”

With that we ended our conversation. After exchanging goodbyes, we got up and walked in different directions. I had been pressing an idea, not to him but to myself for I am a believer and thus, like to reinforce certain ideas by discussing it out more often than would please random strangers at parks.

Complacency in being competent

Like the wayfarer who stretches out to a journey of fulfillment, my inclination while in college wasn’t to the static environment within the classrooms, but to the liveliness that seemed to befall the environs outside of it.Thus, my presence was rather limited in the classrooms, as I spent more time wandering about. Passing through college like it hardly mattered, for I was a firm believer that it was the experience in life that mattered much more in life than sticking around a bunch of books, so I tried a lot of different things. It had dividends, but not worth living for. I was getting by, scarping through rather, not gliding by, which I would have wanted. From school to college, my life had seen a transformation wherein the priorities of life had changed drastically and I wasn’t the person I once had been. The ace student in me had been taken over by the nasty frivolous casual wacko who escaped things in the pretext of “not my passion , not my thing”.

It’s a curse to dwell in complacency and call it perfection. The mind fools us and affects our understanding of the reality as it allows us to dwell in complacency. I know this, since at a point of time in life, I allowed myself to be dragged in such banality, that to revert back to normality was not a choice but a necessity. While the ideals of experience that I believed in were not momentary surge of blithe disregard for strenuous efforts , I felt that this had to be complimented with commitment in every sphere of life. This learning wasn’t overnight, neither were the results. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. When you kick around with life, life kicks you back. Some people understand this in theory and swearing to their mortal existence don’t play around with the wishes of fate, while few like me sometimes choose to expand horizons out of a sense of daredevilry and play with life.

I remember after having scored wonderfully in school and having made it to the best college in India, I was on the moon. That seemed to be the highlight of my life and everything seemed too sublime. I suddenly found myself as the center of attraction, being the topic of discussion and an adviser to all. Then came college which was pretty cool. But then, while everyone saw this as just the beginning of the rat race, and were all geared up, I was standing by the side watching people smack each other through it. As people tried different things, I chose not to do different things, and let that be the difference between me and the rest. That was a rather skewed logic, since the first year me was pretty foolish. So, I screwed up my academics. From 90s to 60s was the graph that I was drawing, and worst of all, I played it cool. I do have to accept, a part of me told me, that this is the level you get to be at and no where beyond. Back in those days I would get intimidated by one and all, and believe that I didn’t have what it takes to be the best of the best. So without being in the middle, I evaded the stress involved in competing with the crowd.

Somewhere down the line, It took on small event to trigger a response, a feeling which made me question things. A personal tragedy changed my perspective in life. I can’t say what it was, but it made me feel again, and feel that I mattered just like the rest and I deserved better. The crowd that I refrained myself from getting engaged with was no more a point of concern. In fact, they weren’t even the point of congruity in my life anymore. What other did with their lives wasn’t my business, hence how well they did wasn’t my concern either. I let them be, and focused on myself. I remember setting up a list of things that I had been missing out on, and set of a bucket list of personal goals to be attained. It didn’t matter if they were to be accomplished just then, or in a few months or a few years, as long as I tried. So, then I set out participating in things,attending lectures and finally getting to know my classmates.My academics improved, my confidence and personality improved, so did my health. The world wasn’t conniving to make my life a miserable hell after all, and my willingness to try was reinforcing that belief. I did well eventually, but the journey is still on. Everyday is spent in constant amazement as I stop less and do much more, keeping myself busy and relishing the fact that we should take on life to move ahead,since side stepping and watching the game just doesn’t make the cut.

Enslaved by habits

On the epitaph of a noble soul, read the lines

“Herein lies the soul of the one who couldn’t get up at 5, and hence life pushed him into eternal darkness”

Well, that is what the world will put up on my grave. No matter how much I try, I can’t gather myself to wake up at 5. It’s like a curse that seems to stick, with no likeliness of ebbing away. Bad habits are hard to get rid off. No matter how much you try, they catch onto you regardless of what you do. Like a bad case of drug addiction, you initially try , but later when things get hard, you find yourself justifying to why having it is boon than bane. Here are a few tips to avoid bad habits and inculcate good ones :-

The dreaded 5’O clock club

I keep coming across articles which aim to summarise the ideal way to success, and there always lies the point “Be a part of the 5’O clock club”. It seems appalling and in simple ways, absurd to think that the only thing between me and a six figure salary is an alarm clock which doesn’t work that well. Well, this is just me trying to justify things. I am lazy and I know that. I usually get up at 10 on a holiday, with no sense of shame for the lost time. While I was sleeping, the so called 5’O clock club must have already jogged through the entirety of Dwarka(Suburban Delhi), taken a bath, had breakfast and probably in the middle of a movie when the sleepy me walks in on them , smudging my eyes. Well, that basically a scene featuring me and my parents.

Its a shame that I waste my time sleeping, when I can do something productive like writing this article, which btw is being written at 9 pm IST, and not in the morning as planned. If you are like me, and end up sleeping a lot not because you love sleeping, but because its usually dark outside at 5 in the morning, and you don’t like the idea of running in the dark, then high-five.

Post-its 

Again from the diaries of wannabe Bill Gates and Zuckerbergs, the need to manage your tasks is a crucial point. One idea is to maintain a list of what you want to do, a TO DO LIST. Its hard to manage one, and I don’t say that writing it on any piece of paper will help you with achieving it, but then its a necessary step. I as of now, have a piece of paper pasted on the wall right next to my bed. It carries the schedule that I have to adopt during the course of the day. Unfortunately, the schedule starts of at 5:30, hence impossible to achieve. But there is one good thing that comes by it, I do wake up even before my alarm goes off. Call it magic or I am a genuine freak of nature, but ever since I have pasted that schedule next to my bed, I do wake up at around 5:30, lie awake for about an hour wondering whether it would be a good decision to head out in the dark and cold. This deliberation doesn’t help me much with getting out of bed, but certainly exhausts me enough to fall back to sleep.

Avoid ego-depletion 

Well, this term isn’t what you think it is. No, I don’t mean to validate your behavior of being snobbish or acting haughty in front on strangers who don’t know you well enough to see who you really are. Ego depletion is a psychological term and is used to refer to a state wherein we exhaust our will power. If you are wondering how the hell does one deplete their will power. Its not a fuel or food, but just a state of mind. Well, think clearly then.

Will power is a potent force that can make a cripple walk and in your case, help you get your daily chores done. Its all psychological, since what you think on the inside is what you manifest outside. If you think that you can do something, you tend to become happy rather than being distraught and this in turn releases a set of hormones in your body which eases the bodily function and provides impetus to your efforts. So it is necessary that we preserve our will power and don’t go about exerting ourselves over everything and anything that comes across. It would be a shame that you have to exert yourself to get your ass of the bed on sundays to get the grocery from the nearby market. You have to make a habit of things, where deliberation is to be killed, and initiative is to be weighed upon.

So learn to make a habit of things than to force yourself. Will power is exhaustive and should be utilized when the situation requires it.

Delayed Gratification

I am a commerce grad, and recently while learning about financial management, I came across this phrase stating that shareholders of a company may prefer dividends now than in the future. This is inspite of the fact that the company invested in may have a growth potential and may utilize these very funds for capital appreciation. This is true in all the other cases as well. Everything is for now, a job now, money now, pleasure now and nothing for later. Rationality is too obscure an idea, when gratification is involved. Its like being a fly, too enticed by the light emitting mosquito killer. You see the other flies dying as they near it, but then who cares, that white light is so cool.

Whenever we aim to do something it involves a level of hardwork, lot of pain and sweat. You do so with a hope that maybe what you do now, will reap greater dividends in the future. Delayed gratification helps you maintain a level of momentum in life, an inertia which helps you sail through hardships. Its upto you whether you want small bits of gratification, which amount to nothing, or wait and work enough for it to become big enough.

 

Follow the mantra if you want to wriggle out of the quagmire boring life, or you can choose to bash on regardless.

Stand Tall, Stand Alone

Through the dark alley, making headway into the arena, walking slowly towards towards the white light, he finally walked into the howling and chirping crowd as people jeered for a revolution. Some had a smug face and grimaced as the Black man walked into the field to play, while others like him waited in anticipation for the magic to begin. This was the year 1947, and the baseball player in mention was Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League Baseball.

Today I saw the movie “42”, a biopic on Jackie Robinson and his seamless tryst to vindicate a black man’s right to live. The movie was more than inspirational, as it didn’t only made me think about making concerted efforts towards doing what I love, it showcased beautifully to how hurdles and obstacles which lynch onto our strides are best trampled upon, and shouldn’t be heeded to. Here is a summary of the success mantra that Jackie had to teach us:-

  • Listen to critics to learn, not to burn.- As Jackie walked out of the dugout onto the field, there howled another player from the opposition, slandering and making racial slurs, to distract and defame him. Jackie maintained his posture and focus as he eventually went onto win the game for his team, the Dodgers.
  • When the world is against you, walk with a smile– There were many instances wherein the moment Jackie would walk onto the field, the stadium would erupt with boos and discriminatory shouts, but he would play on regardless. For people, seeing a black man play the same game was insulting to the sport, and something to be frowned upon. Few were racist, the others just acted due to the pressure created by the atmosphere.
  • Keep your family close and together– Inspite of how the world treated him, Jackie never forgot the fact that this wasn’t just about him, but the entire race. He drudged and toiled through misery, but what kept him going was his family which helped him through.
  • Fight for yourself and the world will fight for you– As Jackie gets hit on the head by one high pitched ball, he finds his entire team on the field on a physical rampage against the other team for an intentional act to harm him.

As the movie goes on , there comes in a beautiful line of thought, which elaborates on the idea of  “Sympathy”. We all know the term and we all know its physical and emotional ramifications. Yet, we choose to ignore what it really stands for. It comes from Greek, and means “i suffer with you”. When I say that I sympathize with you, I not only mean that I feel sorry for you, but to what afflicts you,in turn bothers me. I hence, can’t stand to see you in pain, so I suffer.

Pro at Procrastination

Dates and deadlines, Misses and Goodbyes. It’s not the schedule that’s scarybut the idea of having to do it is what sends shivers through the body. Procrastination is a contagious disease, that spreads across the college dorms or at the fraternities. It is the Sunday morning that is replicated throughout the year, just maybe without the beer or a bad case of hernia which just doesn’t go.

As the sages of the past would like to put it ‘prepare for the outcome with a plan in mind, stay true to your motive and it shall become a reality should you try.’

Not too much of a task, is it.Then why the hullabaloo over the art of delaying tasks. Well, it’s probably because delaying hard work to make merry in make-believe trivialities clogs your mind. As the line goes, “Addiction to distraction, destroys creative production”. The only thing that requires delaying is the gratification. When you delay gratification for another day, and work for what is now and what is done, you become stronger. As I write this, my mind ploys against me as my hands wriggle away to the toggle pad to close the tab outright. My grey cells don’t seem to ponder about what is right, but for what I am missing out on.

What am I missing out on?

Well, right not I am missing out on a movie that I have opened on the media player, maybe the book I have opened up beside me, or maybe the assignment which was due last week. If my schedule pad was a person, it would right now be either cursing me or curling up in shame to how ‘used’ yet unused it feels.

You see, the pleasure loving people that we are, are probably born to regret things in life as we strive towards happiness. Life is like the undulating stream of line, which pitches over like a heartbeat, stretching across the entire canvas, from one end to another. There is no middle ground attained ever, especially for the procrastinators.

Is there actually a middle ground?

Well, there is a middle ground. That is a way is a no-man’s land too. It isn’t dominion of utter happiness or complete sadness, but the area of an emotionless endeavor of tireless hard work. It not instant gratification but habits that count. Habits are few things that stay. When you are lazying around, wondering how to push off work and find the next movie to watch, it’s the subconscious mind which creates a surge of a magical energy that flies you off the couch to the study table. Sometimes, it’s like being on a automatic mode, doing things without having to will it.

In order to succeed, you must will it. But then, how do you go about actually doing it?

Well the statement about will power is to an extent right. But if you have to will everything, then the obscurity of the task will only exhaust you will power. You shouldn’t have to will it desperately everyday to be able to get up at 5 AM. If you do, then life will be a pain. As you are constantly nudging the dreamy head to fight against the routine, you are pushing yourself too hard. After a point of time, that willingness to get up early, study early and better, run more and sleep less just amalgamates to an exhaustive mind play of constant discomfort. Maybe it will work initially, but then should you loose it once, coming back to it will not be a possibility.

To develop a habit, one must start small. It’s like being that toddler once again, who took the staggering steps towards mommy with an enthusiastic laugh of accomplishment as it took it’s first steps.The baby doesn’t reel under the pressure of having to replicate it again later, but just enjoys what it does. That is exactly what one should do.

Maybe when you have built up a robotic mind with an SSD mind, and a RAM strong enough to work quick and easy, you will get things done easily. Procrastination will no longer be your forte, and you will be not sitting on the couch watching a channel you don’t like, just because the remote was too far away.

Dream big, start small and start NOW.