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.

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The Promiscuous Ladder

#FlashFiction

“Hey, you must have had a love life or a couple of flings? Now, don’t act all elusive, and let me on it” Sonali said in a surreptitious and seductive manner, as if to ascertain my candidature to be her next in line.

“I am not really that kind and get by just fine” I voiced out.

I was backing up against the other side of the elevator, and certainly hating the conversation we were having all along from the 20th to the ground floor. Of all the places, I had to be stranded in the elevator with just the right person. In the midst of the awkwardness of the situation, I found a rather astound me, staring right back at me through the mirror in the elevator. In the flurry of the moment, the color had left my face and now the orchid’s aroma was catching up my nose. Flattened and stuck against the wall, I wished I could just wriggle out of the ceiling hatch, maybe trample her over or disapparate the hell out of there, Harry Potter style. I wasn’t sure if it was my hatred for orchids or just the fact that her legs was cramming too close, steering in towards me, I just wanted to push her back.

“Wait!!!”

“What?” she exclaimed, startled by my innocent request.

“I am not sure to what really makes you think that I am up for it, but I really don’t want anything happening here. That’s not how I operate.” I stammered back.

“Don’t make it sound like a task. For all you know, this might just reflect on your performance evaluation.” Sonali sniggered off.

In our moment of candor, she twitched my butt and left me alone. There was a sudden calm and just that moment, we hit ground floor. As the crack between the doors slid open enough to let me through, I was out.

It’s one thing to be under an impressionable Boss and have her like you, but it is altogether another thing to have her under you. I wasn’t going to dole out to the corporate hegemony, playing it out to the fetishes of a dysfunctional person whose desire for power was so much, that it ached her beyond the sphere of professional life, leaving her dissatisfied all the time.

As I drudged towards the exit of the building, beating my internal desire, I quaked within, disputing between what was right and what was wrong. My brain told me that the idea was wrong and my action was right, my genitals told me that her intent was right, but the place was wrong. Clearly, men aren’t biologically wired to function properly in such situation, but I did force myself out of it anyway. Clearly, the ladder of success had let itself down for me to climb, in a manner I hadn’t sought.

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.

Measuring Success

How do we measure success in life?

I have been striding towards a perceived ideal of what I call ideal living, with a notion in mind that this is what success would feel like. Success would be something that enthralls and rejuvenates your very soul, a never ending tryst towards happiness and well being. But this idea is very vague, and in a way very immature and ill conceived. Success as we perceive it is a goal, but in it’s true sense is the consequence of what we go through trying to achieve it.

What drives us towards success isn’t an invisible force or an understanding that “success” in itself is a virtue that befalls those who are great, hence in order to be great, we should strive for success. Continuous ardent attempts to be able to succeed are in fact driven by motivation. Motivation in turn is driven by the sheer desire to emulate someone’s life or seek perfection within us. In the words of Conan O’Brien,”It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. It’s not easy, but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound re-invention.” Heavy words there, but something equally potent which speaks volume of what success really is and how one should go about it.

But how should you go about actually driving towards this obscure idea when faced with real situations. There isn’t one way, and there certainly isn’t an easier way. When you think of life and think of how things turned out, it is only by experience of what is deemed as “failure” do you understand how to succeed. In fact, we become more appreciative of our success in life, only when things don’t fall in line. Success isn’t just the end result, its an ability that defines us. Its our adaptability and maneuverability to go about a maze, where each turn has potential incentives or drawbacks. But each turn, also has an opportunity cost. a cost of learning the art of failure and dealing with it. If you go wrong somewhere, you entire path ahead is redefined. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t find the find the right path again and find that treasured goal. It’s your determination that pushes your through, and it is your love for the experience that forces you back in , to constantly reach out and continue being you, an amazing you.

I recently read an article of how people who are successful seem so sublime at what they do. Without dwelling much into what really maybe, but what eyes have us believe, we draw the conclusion of the natural skills that a person is born with. Within our skewed notion of such observation lies our inherent flaw of complete denial and vindictiveness towards those who are essentially better at being them. We are insecure about our abilities and that makes us jealous and emasculates us of our potential to our betterment. We try to run out of such situations by undermining what the other is capable of and let ourselves believe in the sanguine nature of the charade that we have created for ourselves. We condition the mind to be non-responsive to such stimulants so that it doesn’t break through our walls of complacency.

Once Pablo Picasso ventured out into the streets of a busy flurried market, only to be met by a fan who saw him instantly. She ran towards him and requested him to make her an painting with those skilled hands. Pablo, being as skilled as ever, drew out a piece of paper and made her a painting in less than three minutes and demanded a million dollars. The Lady gasped at the figure and asked him politely to why such a hefty sum for something that was drawn in less than three minutes. A drift response was ” What took less than three minutes to draw took thirty years to master” . Success isn’t something that gets calibrated by a moment’s achievement, but skills perfected by being persistent by doing our best.