Tag Archives: #quotes

Will Power – Muscle or Myth

As some of you may recall from last blog that I just finished a MasterCleanse detox. It’s a liquid diet. You don’t eat any solid foods at all. The minimum you can do it for is 10 days and I did it for 15 days last year. And this year I decided to push my limits and do it for 20 days. When I discuss this with others their first reaction is “What, Amazing Self Control”, “You have a lot of will power”. I thought I will dedicate this blog to my favorite friend – Will Power.

The dictionary meaning of Will Power is “control exerted to do something or restrain impulses” If you are planning to do yoga everyday or stop eating chocolates – will power is your best friend.

First thing about Will Power is that you can build it – it’s not something that is genetic or hereditary. You can work on it like meditation really! In India, when I was growing up the only way to ace exams was to memorize textbooks. Teachers would give you answers and you had to regurgitate them in the exam papers. I generally didn’t care much for studies so I didn’t even give memorizing a shot.

When I was in Delhi one of my close friends was trying to memorize a answer to a Hiroshima/Nagasaki question and she asked for my help. And in helping her I ended up memorizing the answer, and not just that I could repeat it in a super fast manner as well. This was a new skill that I had discovered and it got me excited. This did not encourage me to study though.

It wasn’t until I was in Nagpur that I was driven to excel and ultimately to memorize. And I still remember how I started – I would write down every answer thrice for almost 2-3 days [Yes, I am extremist and obsessive] it was a lot of hard work initially but slowly I realized that even if I wrote an answer only once I would remember it perfectly.Soon it got to a point where I could read something and memorize it quickly. This required a lot of will power and mental stamina but it grew easier over time. The point I am making is that Will Power is like a muscle which grows stronger every time you use it. Doing MasterCleanse for 20 days was one such way to exercise my Will Power.

Another quote is that if you exert too much of the Will Power then you might end up doing violence to yourself. Just like every marathon runner knows that there are limits so does Will Power. This is where Aristotle’s Golden Rule comes into play – “Moderation is the key to virtue” Sometimes you have to do violence to yourself to find out where your limits are.

Another important factor is how important it is for your really – for me it was important to look thin, important enough that I could motivate myself. This is summarized very well in the quote below.

The ultimate goal for Will Power is where you do an activity not because you will it, but because it’s who you are. It should be such an integral part of your life that you don’t even think twice about doing it. And you start off by willing yourself to do it and take it to the point where you just do it.

For example, When I first started meditating it was a battle in my mind until I got to my seat and now it’s a almost a reflex action to wake up and meditate. It was achieved by a)awareness of the importance of meditation in my life b)exercising my Will Power muscle slowly and steadily and c)by keeping my mat next to the bed.

It is a journey you embark on from Will Power to Just Do It. One Step at a time and from violence to inner peace. And as I stated in one of my previous blogs

You cannot travel the path until you become the path.

Body is a Temple

If you don’t take care of your Body where will you live?

This is one of the quotes on my kitchen boards for this year. There’s a lot of talk and in general awareness about body image, healthy diets – vegan, gluten free, plant based diet foods, lactose free and the list is endless. And my dad was telling me that there are umpteen books on losing weight and they keep on coming but still people have issue losing weight. And we were wondering about why that is? This blog is about two topics really a) body image concept b) losing weight.

Before that, let’s talk about why weight/diet figure so much in our daily lives. Let’s start with a story.

In a remote tribal village – some tribals were shown pictures of our best models. And their response was unanimous – “She will die soon, she is so thin. How can she have babies?” End of Story.

And in our world for most women – they are not thin enough. My husband wonders if there’s something inherently wrong with women’s eyes.

Why such a contrast between these two views? I have a theory and it’s got to do with marketing. Whatever we see around us which is labelled as beautiful includes thin, hour glass figure women. Think about it for a second – the perfume, models on online shopping sites, all the actresses. Everything in media that denotes beautiful is indicated by a very small section of women who are of a completely different skeletal structure. And most of this is subconscious and it has been embedded so deep in our minds that it has become another of those socially accepted mental models. There’s a lot of awareness of it but it will take time to completely eliminate it.

Tribals on the other hand who have never been exposed to our media had a completely opposite view. So, now we are at least aware of one reason why we think of weight/body image in one particular way. And even though I am writing the blog I would be lying if I said that I did not believe in the beauty hoax. I am guilty, especially coming of a 20-day detox on liquid diet.

Let’s explore the topic of diets and why losing weight is so difficult. When I was a kid, we had a guy come to our school for a talk and I remember this from the talk
He told us the story of this great leader who had amazing will power. People asked him what was the reason behind his will power. And he said it was very simple, all he did was shake his head from one side to the other. And others were like really – that is so easy. And then he said, “Well, you have to do this when somebody offers you an ice cream or asks you to play when you have an exam.”

For some reason that story stuck with me – it is about saying no when somebody offers you chocolate/sugar/butter. We all know these items are not good for us but we still eat them. If you have amazing will power then you know what to do. And if not then start with awareness – everytime you eat an item that you know you should not be eating – eat with awareness and very consciously. And there will come a time a when the desire itself will give you up. Until then it’s one day at a time as the famous Bollywood actor Amir Khan says in this youtube video

I will finish off with explaining my Title – In India Temples are a sacred and holy place. You keep them really clean and think only pure thoughts while you are in a temple – so treating your body like temple as the same idea behind it.

Here’s to shaking our heads and temples.

Fear of Failure

1#. An Adult is trying to learn gymnastics and during the back flip practice which she was able to do so well last class – she falls down.

2#. An adult is trying to learn swimming and is having trouble blowing bubbles into water. So she does the bare minimum she can and then leaves the class and does not think about it until next class.

3#. A little baby is trying to walk and she falls umpteen times before she gets the hang of it.

What do you think is the difference between the above three examples or before we get there what’s the one thing that’s common across them? It’s really simple – they are all trying to learn something new.

Now, let’s explore the differences – primarily in mind chatter
1. Gymnastics: Oh, My god! I did this last week and now I suck at it. I can never get this done. Why did I even think that I could do this? I should just quit.
2. Swimming: I am the only adult in the pool. Look at all the other kids – they can swim better than me. My instructor probably thinks I am a fool for even trying. I just want the class to be over so that I can stop thinking about what a failure I am.
3. Baby: Blah! Blah! Blah! ..makes gurgling noises. Basically no mind chatter.

Imagine if the baby also thought like the 1#, 2#. I can never walk.I keep stumbling so many times. All I want is to just go to my toy and I cannot even do that.

Can you imagine any baby ever walking with that kind of mind chatter. Something happens as we grow up. Essentially there is no difference between the three example before – we are learning something new and we will fall, be scared of it but instead of trying to do more of it and be upbeat about it we just berate ourselves.

If we think about logically, if we are trying something new then the best thing to do is to do it as much as you can and fail fast and fail as often as we can.

But there is a fear of failure which is a strong mental model in our society. You cannot fail a class – what will others say? You cannot make a mistake at work – it will count against your performance. This subconsciously makes it way in our heads as we grow up and we imbibe this fear of failure and apply it to ourselves like a freebie.

What does this mean for us then? Well, to begin with do one thing a day that scares you. And once you know what scares you just go for it and do it as often as you can. And tell your mind chatter – it’s ok.

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” Johnny Cash

And Celebrate and be proud of yourself when the following happens.

Connecting Dots Backward

This post is about the following quote from Steve Jobs.

An example from his life: He dropped out of college due to various reasons [Read the prestory here].Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and sans serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But 10 years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backward 10 years later.

Summary: He did something which appeared to have no practical application at that time in his limited vision but the universe had a bigger vision for him. We don’t always know what universe has in store for us but it’s infinitely larger than we can ever imagine. We have to trust and take the leap of faith.

An example from my life: A group of about dozen training graduates were selected to join the e-commerce division of software company. I was one of them. One of the graduates – let’s call him Mr.S decided to take a break of three months before joining. Three months pass and one day I hear announcement in office “Anu Sundaram is requested to come to the main reception.” I couldn’t think of who would call for me, anyways I made my way to the reception. Once I reached I saw Mr.S sitting on the couch and nobody else was there. I sat next to him and we chatted for a good few minutes – he had just given his CAT [Exam for MBA entrance]. After a few minutes, I asked him why he paged for me and he responded saying that he hadn’t. Anyways I ended up inviting him for lunch with the rest of graduates – beginning of a life long friendship right there.

Long story short, he did get into one of the top MBA institutions in India and came to NY for training. I was in Phoenix at that time and he came to visit me. And on our way back from Grand Canyon I mentioned to him that I was applying for MBA and would like his help in reviewing my application. He said that he might be able to put me in touch with colleagues who have applied to MBA in US/UK as they have gone through a similar process. And it was through his contact that I managed to get through London Business School which changed the trajectory of my life significantly.

I had no idea that a simple conversation on the couch with a relatively unknown person would lead to such a momentous decision in my life. It does make you wonder how what’s happening in your life now – however insignificant it might seem at this point – will play out in future.

If you find ever wondering why something is happening – be it good or bad remember the following