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“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Success comes to those who take responsibility for their actions. How much of your success, do you think is up to you – your choices, your beliefs, your actions, and your behavior versus external factors?

 

More often we blame the other people in our life like our parents, friends, colleagues, boss, government, society, God and even our heredity for our conditions. It’s so easy for us to let off the hook and blame someone or something else for our failure or negligence. This kind of thinking is not useful and downright dangerous. If we blame our problems and failures –be it big or small, personal or professional on any other person or circumstances beyond our control or just bad luck then we are doomed to fail!

 

In order to be what we want to be, the most important thing that we must do is to take personal accountability. Personal accountability is accepting that we are fully accountable for our actions and being willing to be answerable to the consequences of our choices, decisions and actions. It’s a belief, mindset and an expression of integrity that we are consistent in our thoughts, words and actions. Some of us might exhibit it more than others but it is something that everyone can get better at as it is a foundation to be successful and prerequisite for a happy and thriving life.

 

Practicing accountability is a choice; it would be the most powerful choice that we can ever make. Choosing accountability would empower us to overcome obstacles, beat challenges and succeed in everything we do. Never forget that everything is about – Our choice. Sometimes, situations can be overwhelming but getting up after being knocked down is again a Choice that we make.

 

I would like to mention an event here that I came across in the book “The wisdom of Oz”. In 1989, Adam Walsh, the six-year-old son of John and Reve Walsh, was kidnapped and shortly thereafter found dead. Yet even in the wake of such a brutal act, the couple managed to take accountability for what happened and took action to help others. Since then they worked to create support systems, develop preventative measures and improve legislation for cases of missing children. Here the couple could’ve just grieved the loss of their son and blamed the police and government for not creating a safe environment for citizens from criminals instead they held themselves accountable and worked tirelessly to battle criminal behavior. How we react to events like these are always our choice. We can point fingers, ignore and deny responsibility or we can look at a problem constructively and try to solve it.

 

As Sanjeev Himachali rightly said: “You are the reason of your own good-luck and bad-luck; success and failure; happiness and pain. Your choices are responsible for your present. Don’t blame someone else for your sufferings or failures.”

 

Moreover, to be personally accountable for a situation or problem, we have to take ownership over our actions. We should develop the ability to embrace the good, bad and the ugly that results from our actions. Always focus on what we can do and what we can control rather than thinking about the things that we can’t control. Owning our actions includes seeing how we have contributed to the current issue that we want to change. Instead of blaming others and making excuses we have to think of ways to make amends when things go wrong. Nothing great will happen until we do something.

 

Making mistakes is never fun but don’t think of them as failures, rather think of them as teachable moments that will make us better and more successful in the future. Resist the urge to plant the blame on external factors and instead use what we have learnt from the mistakes to explore new options in the future. After all, Something bad happens; something good results!

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“The human capacity for burden is like bamboo- far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance”- Jodi Picoult

 

We all face some unexpected situations in our life. Some are heartening and uplifting while some are devastating but we all would like to live a life where we do not fail at anything or go through any distressing moments. We feel that an ideal life is one where everything we turn our hand to was successful.However, a life that contains only success doesn’t exist in reality so we should really learn how to cope up with life’s surprises.

 

Resilience helps us bounce back from adversity and misfortune that life throws at us. It can be thought of as emotional fitness. If we are resilient we would be able to cope better with life’s ups and downs. People who are highly resilient are flexible, adapt to new circumstances quickly and thrive in an environment where change is constant. Building resilience is something that we all should aim to be better at as the benefits for us will be profound and long-lasting.

 

Time and time again, we will discover in life that it’s not what happens to us that matters, but how we react to it matters the most. In life we will come across a lot of obstacles, it doesn’t matter what these obstacles are but how we see them, how we react to them and how well we keep our composure makes all the difference. Sure, obstacles are scary, uncomfortable and stressful that sometimes makes you stop from going on. However, if we learn to embrace the impediment that’s before us, accept it, prepare to challenge it and take action despite the present set back, we can find the way that we didn’t know that existed.

 

The first step in building resilience is taking responsibility for who we are and for our life as well. Responsibility here means accept the consequences of your actions, be it good or bad. We should be willing to take responsibility for our progress and outcome. Navy SEAL, David Goggins says that “when you look in the mirror, that’s the one person, you can’t lie to.” We have a tendency to run away from the truth. When things are not working, it’s easy to blame this or that and quit but in order to emerge stronger, we need to accept our faults.

 

When life gets tough, we need to count on our strengths. At times of suffering we forget who we really are, we forget that we are capable of doing great things. In a race in the Mont Blanc, Navy SEAL David Goggins body
shut down after he ran 70 miles and he still had 30 miles to run. During this point, he was in a horrible state, feet broken, ankles taped, shin splints, stress fractures and feet covered with blood. But he kept on going by remembering his strengths. He told himself “You went three hell weeks and finished two. One of the hells weeks, a guy died, it was so bad.”

 

He says that whenever we feel down, we need to go down in the cookie jar and remember who we are. The cookie jar he visualizes contains no sweets. In his cookie jar there are failures and victories of his life. During critical moments, he calms down, takes a deep breath, finds his lucidity and opens this jar where he finds all difficulties he has faced and overcome in the past, all his victories and successes and all the failures from which he has risen. This helps him gain perspective and reminds him of what he is capable of. We all should visualize a cookie jar like this, to realize that we aren’t the weak person that our mind has been telling us, we are the person who has survived tough times in the past! We are our achievements!

 

Furthermore, we need to develop the mindset that we live to learn. Every obstacle we face and every single thing that breaks us helps us advance in our life. What stands in our way becomes the way. Our aim in life should not be to avoid struggles and changes but to confront them and learn from them.Don’t ever expect a time in our life when we will be free from change, free from struggle, free from worry so we should push ourselves to grow, get better, to dive deeper and to become our best self.

 

Elbert Hubbard once said “A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.”Learn to persist in the face of struggle for the cultivation of your best self!

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If you are like millions of people, you probably would’ve embarked in a weight loss journey at some point of your life trying to lose a little weight or maybe a lot of weight. You must’ve tried number of diets and exercises to make this happen but when you don’t see the desired results in the first few days, have you found yourself quitting? We easily give up on our goals because we are not seeing the desired results at the moment.

 

Furthermore, as humans we all dream of becoming something big, an entrepreneur, a chief executive officer, we love the idea of becoming successful and famous but what happens when life throws the first road block at us? We give up on our dreams entirely and assume failure because the process of gaining new knowledge and mastering a skill wasn’t the force that was driving us; it was the shiny reward at the end.

 

Don’t you think that we are conditioned to want instant results in whatever we do? The key principles to achieve some level of success like being patient, working hard and staying consistent in our journey are no more seen in us. This is why it is difficult for us to stick to the goals that we had set for ourselves. We focus so much on the results that if we don’t achieve it within the time we set for ourselves, we QUIT.

 

Let’s take a look at what will happen if we shift our mindset and focus on the process rather than the result in our journey towards our goals.

 

You can outwork your competitors: There are many people in the world who are much more talented, smarter and creative than us but when if we have the ability to keep on going no matter what happens, we will be able to beat our opponent. I would like to share what Will Smith once said about how he got to be more successful in his career.

“The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be out-worked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be all of those things you got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple, right?
You’re not going to out-work me. It’s such a simple, basic concept. The guy who is willing to hustle the most is going to be the guy that just gets that loose ball. The majority of people who aren’t getting the places they want or aren’t achieving the things that they want in this business is strictly based on hustle. It’s strictly based on being out-worked; it’s strictly based on missing crucial opportunities. I say all the time if you stay ready, you ain’t gotta get ready.”

We all need to cultivate this discipline. If we work hard consistently, then we can outperform even our toughest competitors easily.

 

You gain satisfaction in the pursuit: Success is a journey, not a destination. When we focus on the process, we pay attention to the present and enjoy it fully. Having our eyes only on the end results will make us hate the work we need to do in order to get there. When you constantly look at the future, where our results are, the fact that we can’t get there this very minute makes us unhappy with the process that we are currently doing and eventually quit. But, on the other hand when you become present to the process of getting there, we focus on building the skills that we need to develop in order to get the results and enjoy the process of doing so.

 

As Abraham Lincoln rightly said, “If I had 8 hours to chop down a tree, I would spend six of those hours sharpening my axe.”, if we want to succeed in our endeavors, we need to live in the present and pay attention on mastering the skills that are needed in the long journey ahead.

 

I know consistency can be tiring. Putting in the effort, day in and day out for a long time, will make us feel like a loser. Not seeing those results for a while can be really frustrating; this is where most people quit but hang in there, If you can push through this phase and keep putting in the efforts even if it feels like going nowhere, you can achieve extraordinary things in Life !

| Posted on | 2 min Read

“The greatest deception that men suffer is from their own opinions” – Leonardo Da Vinci

On our path to success, we are likely to face a lot of challenges thrown at us by the outer world. But it isn’t just the outer world that tries to halt our journey, sometimes we might also hold ourselves back without being aware that we are doing so.

 

Most often we think that we are lot more aware about our self than we actually are. One important thing that stands in the way of our self – awareness is our blind spots. Blind spots are things about ourselves that are clearly seen by others but unknown to us because we are stuck inside our own thoughts and beliefs. For example, At work, Your boss believes that you have the skills to lead an important project and hands it over to you. However, instead of taking up that opportunity you express your concern and fear that you may not be equipped to handle it and do not take it up. You self-sabotage. Another example would be, while giving presentations your clarity of speech might not be good and your team would point this out to you but you won’t accept it and fully register it as truth because in your head you think your speech has high clarity.

 

Sometimes people turn out to be terrible at judging their own intelligence and creativity, because they want to think of themselves as smart and creative, and tend to be overconfident. It is really important to be aware of our blind spots because it’s essential for our personal growth. Identifying our blind spots and understanding them deepens our self – awareness. Blind spots aren’t necessarily negative traits or weakness; it’s just that when you are oblivious of something, you don’t know there are certain areas in you that require improvement and it’s limiting you from reaching your full potential. When you uncover your blind spots and actively work on them, you become more conscious of your strengths and areas for development and the boundaries within which you are operating within.

 

Let’s look about the steps to gain clarity around our blind spots, which will open the door for growth, learning, and performance improvement.

  • Accept Feedbacks and opinions from others: Always keep these words of Adam Grant in mind “Any time a trait is easy for other people to see or hard for us to admit, we can’t trust our own judgment of it”. Whenever your friends or colleagues give you a feedback, do not ignore it. People who are around us are better judges of our personality so always be open to get feedbacks.
    Let’s try asking blind spot feedback from one person a day for a week at least. Just ask them “Is there anything about me that I don’t seem to see but is obvious to you?” You’ll probably just want to ask only people whom you are close with but don’t stop there, ask people with whom you are not so close also because they are the best mirrors we can find.
  • Try to observe yourself from an outside view: If you are somebody who gives presentations often try videotaping or audio taping your speech to review your behavior from the outside view. This way you’ll be more aware of the areas that you have to improve and you’ll also be more willing to correct it. I feel this is something that we should all be in the habit of doing because this is one thing that will help us understand what our colleagues / mentors / others have been telling us to improve.
  • Keep your critics close and flatterers far: We always think that we need mentors and colleagues, who encourage us, motivate us, cheerlead us and support us even when we get criticized to advance in our career. Even at workplace we tend to lean on with such kind of people. Although, this support network is kind of important at a workplace, we also need a challenge network, people who tell you you’re not there yet, Who push you because they really care about helping you get better.
    As humans we are more drawn to social praise and are more likely to fall victim to flattery but it’s wise to keep people who criticize you and challenge you around. If somebody gives you a harsh feedback don’t push them away and don’t ignore their feedback, it will destroy your opportunity to learn. We all have to embrace that challenge network to reach our potential.

Identifying blind spots and resolving them is an exercise that needs humility as we have to put our ego aside, and don the mantle of a true learner who is seeking the ‘truth’ and just like how growth is a lifelong journey, the process of identifying blind spots never ends. With every blind spot that we find and confront, there is always a next blind spot to uncover but what’s more important is to work on improving every second, every moment, as we move forward in our life’s journey.

| Posted on | 2 min Read

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear”- Jack Canfield, the author of Chicken Soup for the Soul
 
All of us sort of live in a comfort zone. It’s like a bubble that surrounds us and it’s everything we are comfortable with. Whenever we bump against the walls of our comfort zone, we subconsciously turn away, leave from that discomfort and end up never doing it. Staying in this kind of comfort zone is unsafe in a long term. We need discomfort in order to grow. If we stick with what is comfortable, we’re giving up any hope of finding greatness. So it’s really important that we cultivate and embrace discomfort in our daily life. Instead of fleeing from uncomfortable situations we have to learn to face in, embrace it, and really become at peace with it.
 
The first step to cultivating discomfort is to be aware when you’re uncomfortable. You have to be present of your discomfort. The second step is, once you’re aware of this discomfort, embrace it and the next time when you have to experience it, instead of running away from it you push into it head on and you really kind of accept it.
 
I’ll share with you two tools that will help you lean in discomfort. One of them is a really simple test called coffee test. All you have to do is go into any coffee shop and whatever you order ask them for ten percent off. Don’t give them a reason, don’t justify it. This is a very simple and easy way to cultivate discomfort and implements the ability to actively go out and seek things that are uncomfortable.
 
The second way is through a process called social skydiving. It is just walking up to a conversation, usually with a group of people that you don’t know at all. And just kind of join the conversation and, immediately insert yourself into it and start talking to people. The key to social skydiving is that when you’re entering into this situation, you don’t know what you’re going to say, you don’t know what they’re talking about, and you just throw yourself into this situation. It’s really hard to do it but, the more you do it, the more you cultivate discomfort.
 
Those are two very practical ways that you can cultivate discomfort. I’m an introvert, so it is something that is sort of terrifying for me to do but still I have planned to try it.
 
Embracing Discomfort is like building a muscle. Every time you get to the edge of your comfort zone, just push into that discomfort. The first time you do something that’s really uncomfortable, it’s scary. The second or third time it’s still nerve-wracking but you know that you’ve done it once before and it gets a little bit easier. The hundredth time that you do something, it’s starting to be fun and easy and it’s almost enjoyable because you’ve done it so many times.
 
“A person’s success in life can usually be determined by the number of uncomfortable conversations they’re willing to have”- Tim Ferris. The more uncomfortable conversations, the sale pitches, the tough business negotiations, whatever that may be, the better you get and the broader that sort of sphere of comfort expands to.
 
I would like to share a story about my own discomfort and how I kinda overcame it. I had terrible stage fright. During my MBA days, we were required to present case studies and articles almost every day. I was terrified of getting on the dais to give the presentations. The thought of doing so itself would make me sick, so in order to escape that I used to take up all the activities like finding the solution to the case, preparing the presentation except for the presenting part which I used to direct to my team mates.
 
But, sometimes we were asked to make presentations alone and not with a group. During those single presentations, I would start shaking, stuttering and pausing during my speech. It feels like having a black out, I used to totally forget about what I’m presenting, the only thing that would be on my mind in the fear of making mistakes and being judged.
 
I realized that this can’t go on; either I have to force myself to face this fear and get better at it or avoid it and never reach my full potential. I started by mustering up the courage to present small topics during group presentations. I used to rehearse my part in front of my friends. I gave myself short pep talks like “You have got this, Jero! “, before stepping onto the dais. Initially things were difficult, I did stammer and pause but then when I started doing it more often by volunteering to take up more presentations I gradually improved. I wasn’t having the panic attacks anymore. Facing my fear more often made me overcome it. Today, I’m able to make presentations and talk in front of a crowd more comfortably than I was before.
 
Whether it’s public speaking, or social skydiving, or selling, or whatever it might be, whatever thing discomforts you…Face it and build that muscle to embrace discomfort, things that once seemed scary and uncomfortable will become first… sort of less scary, then less scarier and eventually you will become good at it.

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Motivation changes exactly nobody. The bad hand that was my life was mine, and mine alone to fix.” David Goggins
 
Few months back I read a book called “Can’t hurt me “by David Goggins. It’s a story about how the author transformed from being an abused and unprivileged child to being an overweight bug exterminator to eventually becoming the thirty-sixth African-American Navy SEAL. I figured I’d share with you one key lesson I’ve learnt from this man.
 
I noticed Goggins is an obsessive person in some aspects of his life. He became obsessed with learning, running and physical fitness training. He started from an extremely low level in all of that he was obsessed with. Before taking the test to enter the Air Force, he read like a second grader, so he had to teach himself to read so he could pass the tests. Before joining the Navy SEALs, he weighed nearly 300 pounds, more than a hundred pounds over the weight limit for entering into NAVY, and with only two months to lose the weight. He did it with an insane amount of obsession.
 
He says that Motivation doesn’t last. It comes and goes just like feelings. We watch/ read something inspirational and get motivated and then we have one bad day, all our motivation is gone. If you want to achieve something in life, we need to focus on giving our best consistently and that focus comes only with Obsession.
 
Be obsessed with whatever you are doing. It can be anything, learning, writing, technology/coding, goals or your work. When you are obsessed, you won’t let go easily. Get to a point in your life, when you don’t do what you are supposed to do, it should haunt you and eat you away for not doing it. Also, obsession helps you push yourself to go further and harder than before. Pick something you want to improve in your life, which you struggle to get “motivated” to improve. Get “obsessed “with that and see yourself achieving it ! If it doesn’t kill you for not putting enough efforts to achieve it you are not there yet!

| Posted on | 2 min Read

“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.”― Mark Victor Hansen
 
Have you ever wondered what makes someone successful? What makes someone good at academics? What makes someone a top performer? Why do some people achieve their goals while others do not? When we answer these questions, we usually think that their talent and intelligence is what makes them successful but researchers say that talent only accounts for 30% of their achievement. Then what makes a bigger impact than talent? It’s their MENTAL TOUGHNESS.
 
Mental Toughness is the ability to move towards our goals, irrespective of what the circumstance might be. People who are mentally tough, just don’t adapt well in face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or stressful situations but they also thrive in such situations. Irrespective of whatever the situation might look like, they face the challenges head on and find ways to thrive.
 
Have you ever heard of astronaut – Chris Hadfield? I’d like to share with you a really fascinating story about his experience during a spacewalk where he exhibited incredible mental toughness. During his first space walk there was contamination inside his suit that got into one of his eyes and stopped it from working but he kept doing the work he was doing with the help of his other eye. Since there is no gravity the tears from the contaminated eye balled up and flowed to the other eye through his nose. Now, his other eye was also contaminated and he couldn’t see completely.
 
Imagine if we were in this situation what would our reaction be? I bet we would’ve been cripplingly scared and panicked but Chris maintained his calm. Instead of being worried and overly dramatic with the problem he was thinking of ways to try and solve the problem. He says in an interview “In this case I was incapacitated to some degree but I could talk, I could think, I was still fine, I could communicate with everybody, I just couldn’t see.” In the end he did come up with a solution, he opened the purge valve of his suit and let the contaminated atmosphere exit. Once the contaminated air was out, he was able to see again.
 
He says that there were only two things on his mind in that moment when he completely lost his vision while floating in the outer space.
 
1) He was thinking about what caused the problem and what the solution could be.
2) He was frustrated because he couldn’t do the things that he was supposed to do.
 
He should be building this huge robot arm on the outside on the spaceship but he was floating uselessly. Even when he wasn’t sure if he’d regain his sight, he was all concerned about finding a solution to the problem and completing his mission. To become successful we need to cultivate this kind of mental toughness – the grit – the perseverance and passion to achieve our goals.
 
In ordinary course of events, our life holds some good times and some bad times as well. Everybody has to face some stress, challenge, pain and tragedy in one form or another. But the way we respond to such hardships makes a difference. Some people wilt and crumble and quit when things go badly but others seem to consistently rise to the situation, no matter how bad it is, meet their challenges courageously and confidently. The one thing that separates those who weather the storms in their life well and those who are consumed by them is their Mental Toughness.
 
In the recent months, we all have seen a redefinition of life in an unprecedented scale. The shifts we’re seeing have affected nearly every aspect of our lives, so it’s essential to develop the mental toughness to stay strong and resilient in the face of adversity. We cannot have control over all the difficult circumstances in our life, but we can retain a sense of stability by controlling how we respond to hardships. Feeling strong and balanced allows us to adapt to changing circumstances more readily and find creative solutions to problems, which is important to achieve our goals.

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