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December 2005

What is Failure?

I am going to toss the coin.

Do you want heads or the tails?

You want head. Let me throw the coin, asking you to keep the head and return the tail to me? Is one separable from the other? Likewise, distress and delight, agony and ecstasy, sorrow and joy, gain and loss, appointments and disappointments are all two sides of the same coin. And so is success and failure. Enjoy failure as much as you enjoy success.

We say we are comfortable. For example, let us say we are comfortably seated. Can we not enhance the comfort? Still more and still more and so on. Why not develop the same attitude toward pain? Why not increase the pain and increase the ability to bear the pain? Increase the threshold of enduring pain. This continuous process of enduring pain prepares you to accept pain as part of the game as we accept pleasure. What applies to comfort zone applies equally to discomfort zone.

Tips to aspiring entrepreneurs:

Accept not booking orders as part of the role you are playing as an entrepreneur. Don’t get frustrated. Don’t think you are good for nothing and that you are useless to the organization. You don’t know your potential. Let me narrate a story.

A farmer used to carry two pots of water to an ashram. One pot would be left at the ashram for the requirement of the ashram inmates and the other pot would be utilised to water the plants around the ashram. One day, one pot was telling the other pot that he was jealous of the other pot. When asked by the other pot for the reason, the pot said he was not useful as there is a hole in the pot and most of the water leaked out before the farmer started watering the plants. The pot felt that the other pot was doing a great job as the entire quantity was useful to the inmates of the ashram. The farmer who heard this told the pot that was feeling distressed, "Oh, my dear pot, don’t ever feel you are useless. Come with me and you will see the growth of plants en route to the ashram. This is due to the water that you have given by way dripping all the way." The moral of the story is that no one created by the Almighty is useless. You have great powers in you. Introspect, investigate, find them, put them to use and you will succeed.

If winter comes, can success be far behind? Unless there is the pitch dark of the night, where is the brilliant sunshine of the day?

Alexander Lockhart, in his book Peptalk, speaks of Thomas A. Edison's advice on overcoming failures:

      First, one must have definite knowledge as to what one wishes to achieve.

      One must fix one’s mind on that purpose with persistence and begin searching for that which one seeks.

      One must keep on searching, no matter how many times one may meet with disappointment.

      One must refuse to be influenced by the fact that someone else may have tried the same idea without success.

      One must keep oneself sold on the idea that the solution of a problem exists somewhere and that they will find it.

Failure should challenge us to new heights of accomplishment, not pull us to new depths of despair. Failure is delay, but not defeat. Failure is not final but postponement of success. It is a temporary de-tour, not a dead-end street," so said William Arthur Ward. J. Paul Getty, encourages us to fail, says, "If you want to be a success, then double your failure rate. Only then will you double your learning experience to overcome future obstacles and defeats."

Keep this poem on your desk:

Failure does not mean I’m a failure:
It does mean I have not yet succeeded.
Failure does not mean I have accomplished nothing:
It does mean I have learned something.
Failure does not mean I have been a fool:
It does mean I had enough faith to experiment.
Failure does not mean I have been disgraced:
It does mean I dared to try.
Failure does not mean I don’t have it:
It does mean I have to do something in a different way.
Failure does not mean I am inferior:
It does mean that I am not perfect.
Failure does not mean that I have wasted my life:
It does mean that I have an excuse to start over.
Failure does not mean that I should give up:
It does mean that I must try harder.
Failure does not mean that I will never make it:
It does mean that I need more patience.The only people who never fail are those who never try.

Let’s enjoy failure as much as success! Success consists in converting failure into magnum opus triumphs.

-I received this article as an email forward and this article was originally written by Hariharaputhran

Some day is today

Do we resort to action? Are we activated? Ability is what we are capable of doing. What is responsibility? It is the summoning of capability to respond to a situation - good, bad, stressful, irritating, fair, unfair or whatever may be the type of situation – do we have the capability to respond? Likewise, what is dependability? Again, it is the quality ingrained as to what extent we are dependable. Whilst ability is what we can do, it is motivation that determines what we actually do. It is attitude that determines how well we do it. The key to success is action. Are we acting in the sense that are we taking actions commensurate with the situation? Or are we ‘acting’ the action? Are we acting without faith, hope and commitment in which case it is no action at all. Or are we postponing action? Are we procrastinators? Procrastination is the deadly enemy of success.

You need to promise to yourself to stop putting things off. You must make it your goal, commit yourself, study all about it and choose to stop procrastinating.

Well, then. Let's get started!
If you are sick and tired of putting things off...
If you seem to stop every time you start...
If you sabotage your efforts and hate yourself for being lazy...

You need to do something about it. And that something is stop procrastination..

Your life doesn't have to be a long history of unfinished projects, piles of paper, messy rooms and self sabotage.

Look at the alphabet A. There are 26 letters from A to Z. Have you ever pondered as to why A is the first letter, why not B, C or H? It is because A denotes action. Where there is no action, there is nothing. Action should be in the forefront of our plans. When you are discouraged or disinclined to do something, think of A. It is certain your mood will change and you will find yourself already launched on action front. Anthony Robbins has this to say:
"The one thing that separates winners from losers is, winners take action".

When there is action, there is no fear.

Swami Sukhabodhananda, the occult scientist and the Vivekananda of this millennium, says when the mind focuses on action, there is no place for fear. Fear cripples activities; fear creates diffidence.

He gives the instance of four people sailing in a boat that suddenly got into a stormy weather. The boat capsized. One of them could not swim. What did they do? Everyone was involved in action - action in terms of surviving the ordeal. The chap who couldn’t swim was asked to hold on to the capsized boat while others focused on moving towards the shore. Miracle it was, they all lived to see the day. When someone asked them whether they were in the grip of fear, came the reply:

"We were so focused on what needed to be done and we were doing all that was required and where was the scope for fear? When our mind was full of thoughts on action, where was the space for fear to get in?" Action dispels fear. Let’s be action-oriented.

The triumvirate, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Les Hewitt in their book ‘The Power of Focus’ point out to a deadly factor that causes disasters. Just as slow poison depilates and ensures decay, so is the practice of procrastination. Remove procrastination from your life, success is all yours, all the time. They beautifully explain the hidden demon in the word PROCRASTINATION. Take a look at the word again - PRO CRAST IN ATE - make a word out of letters in colours – castrate.

"What a cunning word! It disguises the real word castrate, which also means to impoverish or render ineffective. From now on, when you get into a state where you tend to postpone action or a sense of laziness takes you over, just bring this demon – castrate – before your minds eyes. You will see that you are pushed into action. When there is action, there is result. So what if something goes wrong? One can learn from errors. Is it not said of Thomas Edison that he learnt how not to make a bulb 1,000 times when he was asked about his failure before he could make the bulb.

And now subject yourself to this test? From very simple day-to-day happenings to some thing more complex!

Your child is not doing well in the school. You have been wanting to meet the Teacher and find out what needs to be done. For some reason, you have been postponing the meeting. Now think of ‘castrate’ – sure, you will ask for an appointment with the teacher immediately.

You have a comfortable job; the company takes care of all your needs. The company has provided you with a three–bedroom apartment in a posh locality of the city. You have always been wanting to build your own home, but some how you have been pushing things to a later date. Why? Because you are comfortable now? What happens after you cease to be employee of the company? "Let’s see. Let me cross the bridge when I reach it. Now think of this word ‘castrate’ – sure, you will rush to HDFC or any other bank for finding finance for your own home.

‘One of these days is none of these days. Today is the day’ – this cryptic message will come out loud and clear if you deliberate on the word ‘castrate’ and you will never get into procrastination mode.

"Someday, when I grow up, finish school and get a job, I will start living my life the way I want….

Someday after the mortgage is paid off, the finances are on track and the kids are grown up, I will drive that new car and take exciting trips abroad….

Someday, now that I’m about to retire, I’ll buy that beautiful farmhouse and travel across this great country, and see all there is to see….

Someday…."

ED Foreman beautifully brings out the mind of a man steeped in procrastination who always believes that he would do something some day but where is that some day? Get into action mode and convert that someday into today.

"If only I’d done things I really wanted to do, my life would have been so different" - a man bemoaning missed opportunities.

"If only I had invested 10 per cent of my monthly income?"

"If only I had brought the shares of Microsoft in the ‘80s at that price?"

"If only I had purchased that land in the ‘80s?"

"If only I had ventured and started my own business."

Do we not hear these statements of woe, grief, disappointment and despair? These are all statements of procrastinators. Beware of the fatal trap - the "someday syndrome".

I received this article as an email forward and this article was originally written by Hariharaputhran


Consistency and Persistency

So many thoughts and ideas never see the light of day for want of just one thing - the start and the beginning. We are not lacking in inspiration and sometimes we are inundated with ideas. And especially after we are done taking our shower… these thoughts disappear like the fog that disappears as we come out of the bathroom.

Just imagine acting on these thoughts and following it up. You will be amazed at the fantastic and fabulous results. Some of us do begin but then give up at the first sight of setback. It is nice to remember that we should expect to fail. If you expect to fail, and fail, failure in itself is a success. You are motivated by failure as what you wanted was failure. Persist with failure and as you persist and practice, inadequacies slowly get removed and soon you are on the road to success. Let's reflect on the story of the two brothers who began well in their pursuits of money but gave up at the sight of setbacks. Here's a tale to contemplate upon.

This is the tale of two brothers who sold their assets and migrated to where gold was supposed to exist. They started looking for the gold initially but gave up when there was no trace of gold despite continuous excavation.

They were frustrated and felt there was no point spending more money and energy on a project that seemed to have nothing in store for them. They looked for a buyer and sold the plot of land along with the right to the mine. The person who purchased the plot went on digging despite finding no gold and came the day when he found the mud amalgam that had ores of gold. Faith and perseverance had paid him rich dividends.

Perseverance was the key to success of the one who bought the mine. He did not give up saying "there is no potential". There is enough to be taken but are we taking them? Winston Churchill's motto for success was 'Never, never give up'. 'Keep on keeping on' should be the driving thought. More often we don't succeed not because we don't know what we want, but because we don't want it intensely enough - so says W Wattles.

Let's learn "PURGATORY" from Craig McDermott.

The great Australian pace bowler of the '90s, Craig McDermott, was in the dumps and humiliated when he was dropped from the side that was touring England. McDermott played for Australia during 1984-1996 in 71 Test matches and 138 ODIs, having won man of the match awards in Test matches five times and three times in ODIs. He was the Wisden Cricketer of the Year for 1986. Suddenly, he found he was losing rhythm and was no longer the force he was and was dropped from the team. His pride was hurt and he felt as though the earth was slipping from under his feet. He lost his place in the team but what he did not lose was his belief in himself and the attitude of perseverance.

He realized he had to do something and he began and persisted. He realized he had to shed the extra pounds he had collected around his waistline and the only way to get rid of those extra pounds was to put in lot of hard work. He strained every sinew for six hours each day swimming against the tide. He was running, jogging and never did give up swimming against the tide.

Running improved his performance on a sustained basis and swimming against the tide gave him a strong chest as also strong shoulders. Since he was swimming against the tide, he developed uncanny ability to bowl against the wind. When he was delivering the ball with a strong shoulder, he was able to generate extra bounce and match after match, he was the most feared bowler dismissing batsman after batsman. This was called cricketing purgatory. Purgatory is nothing but cleansing oneself of unwanted things and focusing on what needs to be done.

Living purgatory is the essence of perseverance. Let us get rid of such practices such as procrastination, delving into negatives, not focusing on issues, gossiping, abusing body and mind and in the process generating stress, strain. These are to be purged.

H .Sherman commends that we make this affirmation as we start the day:

I will never give up so long as I know I am right.
I will believe that all things will work out for me if I hang on till the end.
I will be courageous and undismayed in the face of odds.
I will not permit anyone to intimidate me or deter me from my goals.
I will fight to overcome all physical handicaps and setbacks.
I will try again and again and yet again to accomplish what I desire.
I will take new faith and resolution from the knowledge that all successful men and women have had to fight defeat and adversity.
I will never surrender to discouragement or despair no matter what seeming obstacles may confront me.

No pain, no gain - so goes the saying. We expect rewards without trials and tribulations. We forget that there is a price for every thing. When the price is paid, the prize is ours.

Tips for aspiring entrepreneurs: Never have this approach - The market is saturated. I can't find any buyer and there is no way I can sell.

1. Never conclude there is no potential. Realize that you are yet to find the way to unearth the potential.
2. Expect to fail; expect to be rejected.
3. Remember, what gets rejected is your proposal, your presentation and may be you need to examine your proposal. What is rejected is you, the sales person, and not you, the person.
4. Persist with the customer - Ask him for his feedback on your presentation - the style, the content and the intent. Not only will he be your customer as you go along, he will be your life-long referral. He will sell for you. Isn't it great?

Just think of this fascinating phenomenon. Can any one person claim exclusive rights to the sun, moon, stars, rivers, mountains and hills? Does the sun say that his bountiful sunshine is only for so and so and not for so and so. Does the rain say, "I will be raining and it is for him and not for you?" The bounties of nature are for everyone and how is that the flavour of success is only for some and the frustration of failure is for many?

Creation is such that they are universal. How is it then that when there are successful people there are an equal number, if not more, unsuccessful people? When the Almighty has been generous enough to give all these for everyone, how is it that success goes to some and failure and frustration goes to some others? It is the ingredient of attitude. What all of us have is the power of choice; the power to choose; the power to be positive or negative, the power to have faith and confidence and the power to have diffidence and lack of trust in ourselves. Success depends on the choice we make. In other words, if we are unsuccessful, it is only because we choose not to be successful.

The glory of doing is outdone only by the glow of achieving. To win, let's begin and persist.

"It's so hard when contemplated in advance, and so easy when you do it." - Robert M. Pirsig

I received this article as an email forward and this article was originally written by Hariharaputhran

Where is God?

Let’s look at an incident in the life of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. He was an enlightened master. People from all over the country flocked to him in Calcutta. There was a famous pandit during his time. This man was very learned. He was an expert in many areas of learning, but had no faith in God. He was very jealous of Paramahamsa’s popularity.

He wanted to have a debate with Ramakrishna Paramahamsa to prove that there was no God. The pandit argued well, citing many examples.

All the disciples of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa listened with rapt attention. The disciples feared that the non-existence of God was going to be proved. He argued his case eloquently. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa listened to him – even if his attitude was nonchalant.

Finally, he smiled and said, "Excellent. Wonderful. Your point of view was fantastic. You spoke with great eloquence. In every single word you uttered, I could see God’s radiance reflected ... My heartfelt thanks to you for showing me God through your logic." The pandit was dumbfounded.

The Vedas describe God as a being without a beginning and an end. What is it that is without a beginning or an end? Existence itself. In this way, existence is God.

Once upon a time there lived a farmer. He died of some illness. He had three sons. After completing the funeral rites of their father, the sons wanted to read his will and final testament. His will read: "One half of my property should go to my first son; one-third should go to my second son and one-ninth should go to my third son."

After reading the will, the sons were confused. The farmer had left behind 17 elephants, nothing more. How could 17 elephants be divided into half, or one-third, or one-ninth? As they grappled with the problem, a sage came by and offered to help them. He read the will carefully and smiled. He made the elephants stand in a row. He said, "There is one elephant in my ashram. Please go and bring it, make it stand alongside the other elephants left behind by your father. The total number would then be 18. Let the eldest son take one-half of the total number of elephants — that is, nine."

The eldest son got nine elephants.

Then he called the second son and gave him six elephants, one-third of the share, and to the third son, two elephants.

Then he said, "My children. Now according to your father’s will, I have divided the elephants among you all. Now all three of you together have 17 elephants. One elephant remains, which is mine... which was just added for the purpose of calculation. So now I will take back my elephant."

Instead of endlessly debating whether God exists or not, we must realize the divine potential within us. Focus on strengthening this potential in yourself.

There is no stronger divine power other than this truth.


Success and Failure

-Swami Sukhabodhananda

One has to go beyond one’s personal will to be attuned to the divine will. Because of personal will, we grapple with the cosmic will. In this fight we become like rocks and lose the softness of our inner being. This rock-like texture prevents the germination of noble ideas just as infertile soil inhibits the burgeoning of buds from the seeds sown in it. One can win only with the whole, not against the whole.

A successful man once approached me and said, "I am successful but I feel unfulfilled, I experience an inner void. Success has not really brought cheer to my life. Neither do I want failure. I am unhappy, but others think I’m happy. That is the only happiness I have. That happiness is more like a dress on me, not the real me. How shall I deal with both success and failure?"

The love to serve people will release another energy in us. This force will make us feel that we are instruments or channels of help to others. It is said in Hasidism: "When God gives something, he doesn’t give it to you but through you."

There is an interesting insight in esoteric teachings – "The Law of the Pendulum". Just as a pendulum swings from one point to another, life swings between opposites; success and failure, pain and pleasure. But what is important is to be centred…being calm.

Be centred in both success and failure. What does it mean?

When the pendulum swings to success, there is a natural tendency to be dragged to the other end, i.e., you will either have greed for more success or fear of failure. When the pendulum swings to failure, the natural pull is to worry about failure or greed for success.

If one is not pushed around by these ordinary energies, but stays centred, then one can experience another sacred force, which makes one see the beauty of both success and failure.

I remember a student who once asked me a question. "I love your workshop. Many people ask questions on interpersonal relationships, on how to be a winner, on how to go about setting goals, on how to deal with stress. My question is a spiritual one. Who was I in my previous birth?"

Why do you want to know about your previous birth? There is enough to know about your present birth. Why burden yourself with the past or the future? But the man persisted.

I told him that I would teach him the technique. I said that in his previous birth he could have been a rat, knowing that it would be extremely difficult to kill a rat for fear it could be his great grandchild.

Why do we complicate life?

Life is simple, but we raise complicated questions.

Lord Krishna said in the Bhagavad Gita, "Forgetfulness is also my glory."

Nature in its infinite wisdom has given us the gift of not remembering previous births. Please respect it.


Learn from the Dolphins

-Swami Sukhabodhananda

Traders encroach walkways, authorities demand bribes to issue birth certificates, police misuse their authority, politicians indulge in corruption without bothering about the welfare of the people; everywhere, anti-social elements rule the roost. When I think of them, my blood boils and my brain heats up as if it were filled with hot acid. My limbs tremble and I get tense! God, can no one change these?

There are many who pour out their frustrations like this. They get angry and their blood pressure shoots up! There are others who get depressed and withdraw into their shells.

Their frustration is legitimate.

A busy marketing guru was waiting to board a flight.

A sweet feminine voice came on the closed circuit TV, "We are sorry to announce that the flight is delayed by about four hours". "Fantastic!" said the marketing guru.

"What is fantastic about it?" asked a passenger seated next to him.

"I see three reasons for the delay", he said. "Some technical snag in the plane; or something wrong with the pilot or the weather condition may be bad at the destination. I would not like to fly in any of these conditions."

After a few hours, there was announcement of further delay.

The marketing guru again said, "Fantastic!"

"Why do you say fantastic?" asked his co-passenger.

"More time to prepare for my next seminar," said the marketing guru.

The co-passengers, watching him, were confused. They asked him, "Please tell us the truth. Are you not irritated by the delay?" He replied, "I am saying fantastic… only to avoid getting irritated. What choice do I have? By saying fantastic, I am creating an energy field of what I want to feel."

This is called transformation vocabulary. This type of vocabulary creates an empowering energy field.

How to face issues like corruption, bribery… which are intolerable?

To wish for a society free from corruption and bribery is ideal. It is a perfect state of affairs. But what is the reality? Our society is steeped in corruption and bribery!

There is another approach. "Ending corruption? Impossible!" So, accept reality as it is!

Both these approaches are wrong.

Some people get annoyed not only by corruption, but also by silly mistakes committed at office or home... Their blood pressure goes up and their nerves get frayed... such an emotional state, they lose control and resort to marring the opponent.

Such violent reactions land us in trouble.

In boxing it is necessary to control emotions and play by the rule. Similarly, it is essential for us to be balanced in life. We play not one game, but many games, and that too in multiple roles.

In the ocean, there are mainly three categories of fish.

The first, tiny fish, are unable to thwart the urges of the predatory fishes. Eventually, they become food for the predatory fishes.

The second, the sharks, survive by swallowing other fishes.

The third, the dolphins, swim in the same ocean as the sharks, but they do not succumb like small fishes. They know how to swim with the sharks and still stay alive.

Can we be like dolphins i.e enjoy ourselves, be good and at the same time keep safe distance from negative people and still stay alive?


20 self-improvement tips

1. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.

2. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as
important as any other.

3. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.

4. When you say, "I love you," mean it

5. When you say, "I'm sorry," look the person in the eye.

6. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.

7. Believe in love at first sight.

8. Never laugh at anyone's dream. People who don't have dreams don't have much.

9. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely.

10. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.

11. Don't judge people by their relatives.

12. Talk slowly but think quickly.

13. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, "Why do you want to know?"

14. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

15. Say "bless you" when you hear someone sneeze.

16. When you lose, don't lose the lesson

17. Remember the three R's: Respect for self;Respect for others; and responsibility for all your
actions.

18. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

19. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

20. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.


Power of the moment

We lose the power of the moment because we're so rarely in it. We're reliving the past or speculating about the future. We continue to believe that tomorrow's the day when I'll be more capable, more wealthy, more fit and more loving. Meanwhile, I'm just putting in time, dreaming of better things but not making any concrete move to realize them.

When you find yourself thinking of the future or the past, bring your awareness into the present moment. Really experience how you feel and what’s happening around you, without judgment. If we can treasure each moment, our lives will be rich, no matter what we have accomplished.

"Lost, yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered for they are gone forever."

-- Horace Mann

"If, before going to bed every night, you will tear a page from the calendar, and remark, 'there goes another day of my life, never to return,' you will become time conscious."

-- A. B. Zu Tavern


Being Aware

Start building the awareness habit: STOP and PAY ATTENTION. Set an intention to become aware of how you automatically react to different things in your life.

For example, how do you react to the alarm clock, the shower, traffic, work colleagues and situations, your partner or children? How do you react to anger or fear in someone else? How do you react to your own anger or fear? Become a witness to your own life. Pay attention to how you do things.

“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.”

-- Abraham H. Maslow


Anger Management

"How Do You Work With Anger?"

"Character isn’t inherited. One builds it daily by the way one thinks and acts, thought by thought, action by action. If one lets fear or hate or anger take possession of the mind, they become self-forged chains."

-- Helen Douglas

How do you feel about anger, in yourself and in others? How do you deal with it?

Anger is powerful energy. If we are afraid of this energy, we may attempt to deny or hide it. And when we lack control of the energy of anger, we impose it on other people or things.

The ways we react to anger usually reflect how we experienced anger as children and how our own anger when we were young was handled by the adults at the time.

In reality, anger, like any emotion, brings us information. It tells us how we feel about what is being experienced. If we receive anger’s message and learn more about ourselves, the energy will pass.