5 Reasons why you must Stand up for your Rights

Recently I had booked a flight ticket to Kolkata. A few days prior to the flight, I received a message from the airline that the flight had been cancelled due to “operational” reasons. The message upset me as I had important work to be finished at that time and my schedule had been put in disarray. I called up the airline and complained, which they acknowledged by rescheduling my departure on the same flight the next day. However, when I told them that I needed the return trip to be rescheduled as well, they refused to consider, stating that the same was not due to any flight cancellation and was hence untenable.

I decided to escalate the matter with the airline and wrote to their appellate authority listed on their website. I got a prompt reply from them stating that they were willing to “adjust” Rs.2000 since I had been greatly inconvenienced. I refused that offer and stated that I was willing to bear only half the charges levied for the rescheduling. They finally responded stating that they had waived the entire rescheduling charges.

The above incident got me thinking.

We live frenetic lives, multi tasking every step of the day. Our days are filled with countless things to do and technology – that great enabler ensures that we also need to manage our digital lives, replying to whatsapp, checking mails and updating our social lives online. This relentless pressure to do things takes a toll on us and we then always look for the easiest way out of any situation. Coupled with this pressure is also the way technology has arrayed our lives to make it appear that all good things are only a click away. Any effort which more than a tap of our fingers, is not worth our time.

So, when a difficult situation occurs  that throws a spanner in the works, our minds are conditioned to search the easiest way out. Look for the quick fix or even better just ignore the issue, hoping it will go away. Our devious mind also rationalises our inertia by suggesting that the effort is not worth our time. This thought process is actually detrimental to our interests.

My recent experience with the airline is only one example of how if we raise our concerns and our voice against unjust actions, it does reap dividends. To my mind, following is the rationale why we MUST raise our voices/objections/difference of opinion:

To redress a wrong

This is the crux of the matter. We need to ensure our voice is heard so that the unjust action is set right. A wrong if undetected, continues to fester and its impact starts widening in ever increasing circles of inequity and injustice. This is the reason why corrupt politicians think they will never get caught or a business tycoon brazens it out in the UK, while his business flounders back home. Unless the wrong is set right, unscrupulous persons/governments will continue to flourish with impunity, simply because they know that no one is looking to fix the issue.

To highlight the issue

When an action has an unpleasant or unfavourable impact on us and we protest about it, the matter gets noticed. With social media being on 24 X7, our voice of dissent has the ability to reach people (much as this post is doing) and to highlight the unfair. A politician’s wayward son being arrested for his arrogance and wilful violence unleashed on an unsuspecting bystander, an unscrupulous businessman usurping crores of tax payer’s money or a movie being pilloried for a non-existent cause; all such incidents come to the attention of the people and the powers that be. This causes the issue to reach a large number of people – in digital parlance it makes the issue “go viral”.

To set an example

This is an offshoot of the above point. Any wrong or injustice meted out,  needs to be held up to public scrutiny so that others may not suffer the misfortunes that one has already undergone.  Standing up for one’s rights helps others to muster courage to talk about their woes, either similar or in completely different spheres. The recent outpouring against sexual abuse (#Me too) in Hollywood being a case in point.

To benefit others

It is not only the self that one helps when we speak out against something or take a stand. Our voice of dissent is a call to an organisation/government/society  to take note of the same so that others do not suffer a similar fate. When we take a stand, we inspire and pave the way for many others to similarly take up the cudgels on issues of importance to us and society as a whole. Social injustice, government apathy, corporate avarice are just some of the issues that can get noticed and do get rectified in due course of time.

Satisfaction

At the end of it all, you feel satisfied that your voice has been heard and your complaint addressed. This helps you feel better about yourself and raises your self confidence to tackle issues or organisations that are obviously bigger than you.

The next time you are confronted with a situation where you are being exploited, take a pause to reflect and raise your voice. Don’t look at sidestepping the issue, even if it means temporary inconvenience to yourself. Make the time to stand up for yourself and your right to fair standards of behaviour.

Many a times you may fail in your quest and the effort may not seem worth it. But there will be that one time when your voice will be heard. Wait for that moment. Pursue the matter till you get to that moment. You will eventually succeed. That’s what will make your stance worth it.

The path of the 4 Ps to energise your career

Have you ever felt drained out, demoralised or demotivated by the rough and tumble of the office environment?  Do you feel mentally fatigued at having to deal with the political one upmanship that is the norm at the workplace? Are you wondering what you are doing at a workplace where your manager does not seem to recognise your efforts?

A couple of years ago, I was precisely in the same situation. A sense of fatigue and hopelessness had crept in. I was demotivated and held a gloomy view of my career as well as life in general. My interaction with colleagues was minimal and I avoided mingling with them. I felt persecuted and insecure. But then I discovered one thing which helped lift me from the morass of self-pity and pessimism.

That was my writing.

I had published my first book – a collection of short stories – Cartwheels of the Mind in 2014. This maiden literary effort of mine caught the eye of my Director who encouraged and praised my effort by showcasing the same to the entire team on the floor. This brought a huge smile to my face and gave a tremendous boost to my self-belief and confidence.

Earlier this year, I finished writing the first draft of my first full length novel. I am currently in the process of refining the book, identifying an editor and finalising a marketing strategy. All this work on my passion and hobby has made me realise that there is a definite link between following your passion and becoming happier at work. I give below the way of the 4 Ps that I think is a sure-fire way to raise your energy levels at work and make you happier.

Passion: The first thing you need to do is to identify your passion. This can be anything. From cultivating a green patch, to climbing mountains; from singing out your heart to telling your story. The possibilities are endless. But here’s the catch – it must be your passion. The thing you love doing the most, not because others are doing it, or because it makes you look cool. But because it ignites a fire in you. It fills you up and expands your horizon. It excites you and makes you feel alive.

So, rule #1 is – find your passion.

Purpose: Now that you have identified your passion, you realise you are now filled with a Purpose. The need to do something, be someone or show your prowess to the world. Purpose defines who you are, it provides meaning to your Life and bolsters your self-confidence. You are no longer just ambling along the highway of Life. You know what you are here for. This is a primal urge for all mankind that often gets obscured by the hurly burly of modern existence. Purpose provides you a sense of self-worth that transcends work titles and job descriptions. It fuels your existence.

Perseverance: Ok, so now you know what excites you. This activity (and it must be an activity, not merely a thought) sets your pulse racing. What are you going to do about it? To sit back and relax is the antithesis of what you should be doing. You need to FEED that passion. Which means you must persevere to keep doing what you love to do, in small doses, day after day. This perseverance to do the thing you love to do, is crucial to fanning the flames of passion in you and will keep you from day dreaming about what makes you feel good, to actually doing it. An ounce of doing is worth a ton of passion.

Positivity: The culmination of the path that you have started on, as shown above, is the infusion of positivity in your Life. You are now filled with optimism and energy because you know what your passion is, you are filled with the evangelistic fervour of your Purpose and you take small steps on a daily basis to fulfil that passion. The combination of the above steps lead you to becoming an optimistic person, one who is more cheerful and has a more benevolent world view.  This positivity seeps into your career as well and the outcome is a noticeably peaceful and energised you, one who is not buffeted by the storms of petty politicking or manoeuvring but holds her own. Your efforts at the workplace are infused with a renewed enthusiasm and vigour.

The 4 Ps above are not stand alone but are synergistic in nature, each part of the process feeding the next in a powerful Circle of positivity.

To summarise – find your Passion. One that fills you with a Purpose which if you will Persevere with, will lead to a virtuous circle of Positivity and Happiness. Adopt this for yourself and then watch the transformation unfold.

I have experienced the benefits of the 4Ps – try it and see if it works for you.

Contentment

A roof over my head, dinner on my plate

Friends at my doorstep, no one to hate

He has given me enough, I shall not Want

Two innocent rosebuds, fresh as the day

Young and impressionable, to show me the Way

He has given me enough, I shall not Want.

Wealth in sufficient measure has been granted

Though, not always giving me what I wanted

He has given me enough, I shall not Want.

A robust shelter for the soul, fit and well

But when my time may come, I cannot tell

He has given me enough, I shall not Want.

A pillar of strength she is to me,

With me during happiness and misery

He has given me enough, I shall not Want.

An honest way to earn my livelihood

Fulfilling my duties as best as I should

He has given me enough, I shall not Want.

A way with words, to lighten the mind

A path I must take care to find

He has given me enough, I shall not Want.

The material and the mundane, I have in plenty

Albeit, with more cares than when I was twenty

He has given me enough, I shall not Want.

To seek , to tame and to subdue

This is my goal, to my own self be true

He has given me enough, I shall not Want.

Whenever in doubt, or envious of the world around

I look within and to the joys I have found

He has given me enough, I shall not Want.

This is the most important trait you should possess

The case for willpower being a key weapon in an individual’s arsenal is an open and shut one. Throughout the ages, many traits have been pointed out that are crucial to a person’s success. Discipline, determination, single minded focus, perseverance, agility – all these are perceived to be the cornerstone for achieving Life goals. Yet, this innocuous and seemingly easy word is key to everything that is achievable. It has been proven time and again that when faced with insurmountable odds, it is always this trait and no other, that proves a person’s mettle and helps the individual to scale the peaks of success.

The brilliance of Stephen Hawking comes readily to mind, as a classic example of what willpower can achieve. Everyone knows how this immensely gifted scientist overcame his apparent fate of being a quadriplegic to becoming the most luminous academician – physicist of our times. The movie which chronicles his life story also corroborates this. It didn’t matter to Hawking that he was diagnosed with an unusual and paralysing disease. What mattered to him was his single-minded obsession of unravelling the mysteries of the cosmos which led to his celebrated contributions in the field of physics and cosmology.

It then becomes increasingly obvious that the key to Hawking’s success lay in his indomitable willpower to overcome his physical impairments and never give up sight of his ambition. It is this trait that was instrumental in shaping his life and career and propelling him to the rarefied realms of scientific theories of black holes and quantum physics.

The strength that willpower brings to an individual is something which I have personally experienced as well in many areas of my life.

A simple example of physical exertion comes to mind. Although I have been of fairly sound physical shape for most of my adult life, I have taken up jogging only in the last few years. I found that initially I could jog no more than one or two kms at a time. But over a period of time, I resolved to increase my jogging distance and kept at it. To my surprise (though why should it surprise is the question) I have now reached a minimum of 5-6 kms that I can complete at a stretch and my aim is to better this distance as well. Although this appears to be an insignificant distance when compared to some of my friends who run distances of 10- 25 km and more, it becomes a personal achievement to be able to surpass what I thought I couldn’t do. And I can do this only because I keep telling myself not to give up. Only a couple of kms to go. I can do it. I must not stop now.

That is willpower in its most elementary and beautiful form.

It is the fuel that helps you grow beyond your self-inflicted boundaries. Cultivating willpower is essential for anyone wanting to achieve success – whether it is acing an entrance exam, climbing the highest peak or subduing one’s own self-destructive passions.

To attain ever increasing amounts of this most precious personal trait, I recommend the following game plan, based on my struggles to attain more of this greatly beneficial characteristic. This is by no means the ultimate plan, just one that has worked for me and continues to do so :

  • Start small, then keep building – it is always a daunting task to take on the entire objective or goal in one fell sweep. So start small – one step at a time and gradually build up your reserves of strength, distance , emotions whatever it is you are aiming for. This will help you to overcome the initial starting issue as the goal will also seem achievable. Once you have achieved the first milestone, move it a little more so that your next one is then ready.
  • Engage in a physical activity – this is essential because it is an example where you can quantify the effort and the outcome. It also gives you the biggest kick in achieving something which you thought you could not do – and in the process, push your boundaries. It could be anything – from a walk in the park, to practising yoga at home or pumping iron. A physical activity that you can perform and then look to scaling that up gradually, gives you first hand evidence of the confidence that you can do it. To top it off, the afterglow of successfully completing your goal is a great and fulfilling feeling.
  • Periodic fasting – this habit enables one to train the mind not to give in to hunger pangs. It helps in keeping a reign on your daily impulses and curbing the most fundamental of all desires. This in turn helps build willpower. Again, you need have a highly ambitious plan to start with. Start with maybe a morning session of abstinence followed by a day’s fasting and gradually move your way up. If you can suspend your primal desire to fill your stomach for predetermined intervals of time, it will aid you in your quest to building an iron wall of willpower.
  • Just do it – The classic Nike tagline has an inherent simplicity and focus that I love. Motivation is overrated. When you feel yourself not upto it and the desire to throw in the towel is great, you need to just go ahead and do it. Don’t rationalise and don’t procrastinate. Force yourself to do whatever it is you have promised yourself. That is the best route to build your willpower.

To summarise, there are a number of qualities that are essential on the road to success. All of them are important to enable us to get there. It is also important to cultivate those habits and traits that are good for us and help us become stronger individuals. But a person who has enormous reserves of willpower will always reach his or her goals, come what may. She will not be deterred by the seemingly insurmountable obstacles on the way. Armed with willpower, an individual can smash all records and scale the highest peaks. Or better still, he will, in a steady march towards fulfilment, reach the apogee of all human endeavour – conquering one’s own impulses of the Mind.

 

Why changing your mind is the worst you can do.

Hi friends,

Today I want to talk about changing your mind about the really important things in Life.

In today’s world offering us a plethora of choices, it is all too easy to fall prey to the fickleness of one’s desires. When the going gets tough, choosing a different option may seem to be the right thing to do.  After all, you are answerable only to yourself and no one else. So why not?

But do you really gain when you change your mind about something significant, a life changing event, a course correction that would alter your footprint on the sands of time?

I would like to share with you my personal experience with changing my mind over a significant goal that I had.

One of my favourite dreams was to live in a foreign land. For the longest time, I had this longing to live in a country like the US or Canada or the UK. Places which I had visited or seen in the movies and magazines, which promised a better standard of living or a higher quality of Life. Almost a decade ago, this longing turned into ambition and I decided to do something about it.

I painstakingly gathered all the relevant documentation that the Canadian immigration rules demanded. I made multiple copies of my marksheets from school and college. I even enlisted the help of an advocate who provided me with the necessary certifications and validated my documents.

Imagine my delight when I finally got an intimation from the consulate telling me that my application  had been approved for permanent residence status in Canada. My joy knew no bounds !

With great enthusiasm, I made the necessary preparations for my journey to the promised land. But before embarking on this long and exciting voyage, my wife and I decided to seek the advice of family and friends. And they were most helpful and did offer many suggestions to ensure we would have a stable and secure start in Canada. The first thing they said was not to pack up everything and go. Always keep a backup…. Just in case. So we decided that instead of leaving lock stock and barrel, we would take it nice and slow. I would go first and scout around for a job. And after securing a “good” job I would then plan to get her there as well.

I landed in Canada in the summer of 2007, all starry eyed and excited. The place was everything I had dreamt of or heard about. Toronto was all that a large metropolis should be – sophisticated, bristling with cars that whooshed silently by, zero pollution on the roads, spotlessly clean in most places and most of all , the air had a scent of freshness that I found exhilarating.

Within a month and a few days, I had lined up a couple of interviews at major banks. Everything was hunky dory. However, due to the feedback that I had received over the past few weeks of my stay there, I found myself faced with a barrage of reasons as to why I should not consider relocating to Canada. From job insecurity to the harsh winters to the lack of a sound education system, I was buffeted by a slew of reasons, all of them looking gloomy and sinister.

In hindsight, what happened next sounds ludicrous. I suddenly decided that the effort was not worth it. That I would not succeed at what I was aiming for and that it was all a huge waste of time. On a whim and an impulse, much to my boss’s amazement and chagrin and my wife’s acute disappointment, I chose to return to India.

So why did I do that ? Choose not to pay attention to my inner voice and carry on? What made me so fickle minded that I forgot my life’s ambition and succumbed to a momentary lapse of weakness ? The answer is simple – I changed my mind about who I was and what I wanted to achieve. Just like that. And in the bargain lost out on my only chance at building my dream life in Canada.

So dear reader, take this small piece of advice that I share with you now. Change your mind about small things, things that don’t matter. Change your mind all you want about having that expensive  watch or that new car or that set of pearls. But don’t ever change your mind about the things that truly matter, for that can cost you your Ambition, your Dreams and your Hope.

Be steadfast and committed as you set out to achieve your BIG goal – whether it is climbing Mount Everest or becoming a pro footballer or a renowned chef. In the short run, things may appear bleak and forbidding, difficulties may seem insurmountable, the world may seem pitted against you. But don’t you back off. Don’t change your mind.

Always keep choosing the same goal, vision or objective. That is the only way to succeed.

As Og Mandino so eloquently puts it :

“So long as there is breath in me, that long will I persist. For now I know one of the  greatest principles of success; if I persist long enough I will Win.”

 

What are your thoughts on this article ? Do share your comments below.

 

 

The conundrum of our connected world

The conundrum of our connected world

We live in an age which is forever impressing upon us the happy fact that we are connected to each other in countless ways, joined at the hip so to speak by the mobile phone and the internet.

Technology has brought in a host of new age improvements in the way we communicate with each other, from the now passé email to the ubiquitous WhatsApp and other prodigious chat applications that now exist in the technology and user space.  We are constantly reminded that the whole world is waiting to hear from us – from the good morning messages that inundate our phone via WhatsApp, to the warm and fuzzy messages of love and caring that we exchange with our loved ones. Everyone is just a click away and electronic communications is now running so smoothly, that for anyone to even contemplate writing letters would be akin to regressing to the stone age.

So, here we are, all 7 billion of us, (give or take a couple of billion for the unfortunate few who don’t own a device – gasp ! – with an interconnectivity experience like never before. With a phone glued to our ears – or more frequently now, texting and swiping to ensure we don’t miss a single message or update from any of our crucial relationships on WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and beyond.

There is absolutely no denying that we are hugely benefitted by the impressive computing and mind boggling speeds at which we are now able to transact using our phones / tablets. Book a movie or airline tickets in a jiffy, shopping impulse ? No problem. Go online and shop to your heart and your wallet’s content on Amazon. Bored and wondering what next ? Play Candy Crush on your I Phone 7 till the cows come home. Getting restless wondering how many of your 700 + friends have liked that yellow dress of yours – log onto Facebook and check it out, while sipping your coffee. The list can go on and on… Technology has now ensured that every object of our desire, that we aspire or crave for, can be immediately sourced on the Universal Gigamarket in cyber space – Google. So that takes care of that.

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