Utpal Vaishnav

Utpal "UV" Vaishnav is a lifelong learner, entrepreneur and author. UV is the Co-Founder & CEO of Space-O Digicom. Find out more »

5 Lessons Learned from the Movie: Azhar

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it! ~ Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Similarly, When you want to learn something, all the life experiences conspire in helping you to learn.

You learn from even a commercial movie you watch. More about it in a minute but first, a little background:

Enter the late eighties and early nineties when I was a teenager 

I was a die-hard fan of this game called ‘Cricket’. Cricket was a major part of my life’s happiness. I used to practice a lot to bowl well and bat well with my friends, schoolmates, and cousins. For hours. Relentlessly.  Kapil Dev was my favorite cricketer and I was always ready to watch his matches at any cost.

I used to collect Kapil Dev’s photographs, I remembered almost all his test and ODI scores and I was all guns to be like him in life – an allrounder.

But Kapil Dev got retired in 1994. I thought I will miss him so much and I did not want to stay with that feeling so I stopped watching cricket completely after Kapil Dev’s retirement. And I stopped playing the cricket too. I’ve always been an extremist.

I would later read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People book from Stephen Covey and learn that if you make any person your center of attention then sooner or later, unhappiness will find its way within you. The better life is designed based on principles and not any single person but I was almost a decade early to understand all this in 1994.

Though I was mad after Kapil Dev in my cricket-loving days, there were a select few cricketers whom I used to admire for what they do on the ground. Azhar was one of them. A great fielder, good batsman and the captain of the Indian Cricket Team.

But once my interest in cricket was replaced by other things that mattered to me, none of them mattered much. Fast forward to 22 years and then came the movie – Azhar.

I was not sure if I’d watch it but a couple of days back I was talking to a teammate who had watched it and recommended.

So I watched it.

I liked the movie. I’m not sure if the happenings in the movie are based on facts because in the beginning of the movie they showed a big disclaimer stating that the whole movie is a work of fiction based on Azhar’s life and may not be the reality.

To me, it does not matter if anything shown in the movie was fact or not. What matters to me is to be able to learn – out of any experience that I come across. And here are a few take-home points for me from the movie – Azhar:

5 Lessons Learned from the Movie: Azhar

azhar-5-lessons-learned-from-the-movie

1. Your work should speak, not just your words

Consider this dialogue from the movie:

“Tere ko jawab bolke nahi, khel ke dena. Tu Muh se bolega toh kuch hi loga sunenge, balla bolega, toh poori duniya ko sun na padenga.”

I’m translating it below for readers who cannot understand Hindi:

You’ve to give an answer with your play and not your words. If you speak, then only a few will understand, but if your bat speaks, then the whole world will have to listen.

In the same lines, consider this quote from John F. Kennedy:

“What You Do Speaks So Loudly that I Cannot Hear What You Say.”

Lesson: Be the master of your craft and make your work speak for you.

2. Be Interesting or people will find reasons to move on

The character ‘Naureen’ portrays the role of a good, positive and supportive wife. She was beautiful and almost a perfect companion.

Her life was revolved around Azhar. She was happy if Azhar was happy. She didn’t seem to have any life on her own. Azhar was her world.

Still Azhar left her for another woman – Sangeeta.

Ambitious (and capable) people often look forward to the interesting next. Naureen wanted the status quo to be maintained so Azhar could not cope up with her.

Here the question is not about morality. Not about being right or wrong. The question is about making something work.

Despite her devotion and attention to Azhar, Naureen couldn’t make her life work with Azhar.

Lesson: Be interesting. Passive devotion is not enough.

3. People often do opposite to what they superficially believe or say

The character ‘Sangeeta’, Azhar’s second wife, said that she would never hook up with a Cricketer.

If a cricketer is a married man, it would be an even BIGGER NO.

But she did exactly the opposite. When love happens, all the reasons go away.

If there are still reasons or considerations left, that’s not love.

So even after knowing all Azhar’s limitations and her dislikes, she went ahead and decided to marry him.

Lesson: In love, you become unreasonable. If you think you love someone but have any reasons left, you really don’t love her (or him).

Consider the following two statements to understand the power of true love:

“I love you, but [put any reason here].”

“[Put any reason here], but I love you.”

Same words but totally different meaning.

See the difference yourself. Here, ‘you’ may not be just any other human being but anything that can be loved: object, subject or anything!

4. You don’t need to be smart to win the game of court (or life)

The character ‘Advocate Reddy’ lacked confidence and was certainly not a smart or the most qualified Advocate but his heart was with his friend, Azhar.

Advocate Reddy did everything possible to make his friend, Azhar Win the case. Sure, Reddy was not smart but he had substance and he was detail oriented. These things matter even more than just a superficial smartness.

Abraham Lincoln had said,

“Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing.”

If we look at smartness from Lincoln’s perspective, it will turn out like this:

“Substance is like tree and smartness its shadow. The smartness is what we think it is and the substance is the real thing!”

Lesson: Substance matters more than smartness. Over the long run, smartness matters only when backed by substance.

5. You are a fighter if you decide to be one. And all fighters are emotional.

The character ‘Azhar’ is full of substance and charm. He lets his work speak, does what he feels right – beyond the conceived perceptions of what may be right or wrong – and plays his own game. He took money from the bookies. Even after he was married, he fell in love with other woman and got married to her. The character had always listened to his heart and his own notion of righteous thing.

He selected his friend as a lawyer even though he had enough money to hire a top-notch and expensive lawyer but he would hire someone whom he can trust and who believed in him.

Sure, he gave up to his feeling of what he called love (Naureen) and went with another woman (Sangeeta) but since his heart was pure, his complete family, including his first wife and children, stayed beside him in the end.

6. Bonus Point: Live the Life On Your Terms (and you won’t have any regrets!)

People who always listen to their heart first are not perfect and often act impulsively.

They are ambitious. They rebel. They do what they feel is right. They are interesting and charming.

Because of such traits, they are believed differently (wrongly) and often dragged into allegations of different kinds. But to them, those things don’t matter.

They live life on their terms – the way they want to live. Without any boundaries. Without paying much attention to looking good or bad. Without any regrets.

Sure, such people may not always make a good fit for the society’s perceived norms – such as husband or wife, a cricketer or an obedient employee, but they have no deathbed regrets.

You can love them or you can hate them. Only one thing you cannot do: you cannot ignore them!

Learn to Love Networking

It’s been a few months since I’ve got a new interest: Networking.

I think that understanding Networking at depth will help me be better at what I do.

I had never consciously touched upon the subject of networking but better late than never.

In business, people invest in networking activities willingly or unwillingly.

The problem is, many executives, professionals, and entrepreneurs consider Networking as an inauthentic, and exploitative activity.

There is some truth to it too. People often invest in networking to gain some benefits out of the activity.

I am not done with my research yet and I have a little understanding about the subject but I think networking is a wonderful gift to a professional when done right.

Good networking provides more opportunities, deeper knowledge, and improved capacity to innovate and make things better.

I have started to believe when done right, Networking has a potential to improve one’s personal life as well.

While looking at Networking from business and opportunity perspective, I came across this interesting article from Harvard Business Review: Learn to Love Networking. The article is written by Tiziana Casciaro, Francesca Gino and Maryam Kouchaki.

Some of you might know that for last few months, thanks to my friend Tanmay Vora, I’ve been learning to take notes in the form of Sketch Notes. I did the same while reading this article on Networking. Here is the sketch note:

Learn to Love Networking Harvard Business Review

I think the four take home points from the article: focus on learning, identify common interests, think broadly what you can give and finding a higher purpose have a great potential to make you a better professional and better creator.

What do you think?

How to Live a Meaningful Life

Do you know what is a critical element for you being unhappy?

Your relationships.

Yes. Your happiness comes down to the quality of your relationships.

As a human being, you are part of an ecosystem where everyone is related to everyone else.

If your important relationships go wrong, you feel unhappy.

If your important relationships stay right, you feel happy.

If you form any new, meaningful relationships with interesting people, you feel happier and look forward to the vibrant side of life.

Meaningful relationships = Meaningful life.

A meaningful life is the life full of meaningful relationships

“A meaningful life is the life full of meaningful relationships. Create yours.” Click To Tweet

To live a meaningful life, you must have a meaningful relationship with at least the following: your own self, people who matter to you, causes you care about, your career or your business and things that matter to you.

Good thing? Meaning is subjective, and it can be defined. Means you can attach a specific meaning to your life when you decide to.

In his famous fable The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Robin Sharma wrote,

“The purpose of life is the life of purpose.”

A powerful statement. It states that you can choose the purpose of your life. Same is the case with meanings.

So, here’s a big idea: consciously participate in meaningful relationships and you’ll have a meaningful life.

Some people recommend that you should “invest” in relationships – I disagree.

When you invest in something, you expect a profit or a material result out of that investment. If you do the same with your relationships, sooner or later, they will go sour. And you, unhappy.

But when you participate in something, you don’t expect any outcome out of your participation. True participation means pure life, lived in that moment … without any expectation or a desire of a material result, whatsoever.

To observe a true participation in action, observe the behavior of a 3-year-old child. She’d not “invest” her time into any activity. She’d just participate. May it be playing with her friends. May it be interacting with her parents in her wordless way… take any activity and observe her true participation.

Learn from her. And you’ll be happier… like the 3-year-old!

To live a meaningful life, it is very important to understand the distinction between investing in relationships vs. participating in relationships.

And you got that distinction now.

And guess what, this distinction will fundamentally change how you treat other people.

Understanding this distinction will be very useful to you if:

  1. You are a parent and you think you are investing in your child because your child will take care of you when you will become older
  2. You spend your time with your friend because you think your friend will become an influential man (or woman) and you’ll leverage his influence one day to your benefit
  3. You spend your time with your team members because you think your team members will indirectly give you more benefits by contributing more work

I can go on and on. But you got the idea.

If you decide to be in a relationship to gain something out of it, sooner or later, you will meet sorrows, grief, and unmet expectations. All of these are good pillars to create an empire of unhappiness for you.

Human beings have a basic need – they want to be treated as a human being, not as a thing. They want others to treat them as others want to be treated.

Treat others like you want to be treated - sketchtoon

Never miss an opportunity to enable the other person to realize and operate from her peak potential.

When you do that, you form a different kind of relationship with that person. A relationship that you’re going to celebrate for the rest of your life.

Not because you expected anything from the relationship but because you chose to be an aware human and you chose to participate and elevate the other person.

 

Difficult Roads – Do They Really Matter?

Recently, I came across a quote from Melchor Lim:

“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.” ~ Melchor Lim

This quote is good and motivating because it tells you that your present situation may be difficult but your destination will be more satisfactory and fulfilling.

This quote can help build a person’s confidence.

But here’s an observation: Recently I went to North India Countryside and I took the following picture – of a beautiful road.

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations

The journey observed beautiful roads and also led us to beautiful destinations!

So I thought about the quote a bit more and I realized that:

Your destination would depend on what you make of your journey. Tough roads; easy roads, beautiful roads; pleasant moments; frustrating situations … all will come, but they matter less if you have a specific thought process to deal with them.

Such a thought process starts with the following critical question: why an external anything have any power over your feelings?

As a traveler, YOU matter more to your future, not the roads.

As a traveler, YOU matter more to your future, not the roads. #travel Click To Tweet

YOU matter more because you’re the traveler. You’re the action-taker. You make things happen, not the roads. When the roads don’t make things happen, they are powerless. The one who makes thing happen is powerful, and that’s you!

So regardless of the type of the road, difficult or easy, ugly or beautiful, you will reach your destination if you choose to do so.

Go, reach your destination no matter what. Not because the road is beautiful, but because you choose to!

The Hacker Acumen – a Digital Zen Story

Consider the story of Leo, a lifelong hacker:

The Hacker Acumen

Leo has been serving one of the oldest technology organizations in the world for past 30 years.

Leo was a self-taught programmer who led his way to a multinational tech organization via acquisition of his own tech security services company.

Leo had used punch cards. Worked with age-old technologies such as Fortran, Cobol, Basic and C/C++, watched email being invented, coded business apps with Xbase languages such as Clipper, saw the PC market being taken over by Microsoft in mid-nineties and also saw Apple being the world’s most valuable company in the past decade surpassing the PC era.

Even in his fifties, Leo lived a geeky life. Several years ago his wife passed away. His children found their way in their own lives and here was Leo, alone yet peaceful and content with what he’s been doing with his life.

One Saturday night, he was spending some time working on a complex algorithm in his home office.

He saw an abnormal activity in one of the backup servers he was monitoring.  A hacker was trying to get into the server and get access to the code but was not able to.

Leo’s home backup server hosted the legacy code of an Operating System he had developed long ago.

Experienced Leo soon caught the hacker, “You’ve been trying so hard to break into my backup server,” he told the hacker, “and you should not return empty-handed. Please take the source code of the operating system I built long ago as a gift.”

The hacker was puzzled. He took the source code and went offline.

hacker-accumen

Leo sat on the floor, reflecting about hacking. “Poor guy,” he mused, “I wish I could give him my ‘Hacker Acumen’ to him, which means to create and learn, not to steal.”

My Takeaways

  1. Hacking does not mean breaching the security of systems; it means being a creator…a lifelong learner.
  2. If you commit to the work of your life then you don’t worry about spending your time at work. Even you’re at home, you create your workplace. You do it for a simple reason: it is no longer just your work, it’s your life!
  3. Source code has no value in the word of a competent hacker.  I remember when I was worried about “protecting” the source code of the Business Apps I was building in early 2000. Fast forward to 15 years and it has never helped me. I mean having a “copy” of the source code just gives mental relief that you have something, but in the real world, if you know what you’re doing, you’ll easily create new source code without any hassle. And if you’re not competent, it doesn’t matter much.
  4. Just trying to crack into someone’s server does not make you a hacker. A hacker has a ‘Hacker Acumen’,  a mindset of continuous exploring, trying, failing and learning.
  5. Get absolutely clear about hacking: Real hackers solve problems and build things, and they believe in freedom and voluntary mutual help; So-called hackers (Crackers) break them. Decide which kind of hacker you want to be.
Real hackers solve problems and build things; crackers break them. Choose to be a #hacker. Click To Tweet

Be a Real Hacker, Be Like Leo

be-a-hacker :: be-like-leo

This is Leo.

Leo is a hacker.

Leo spends a lot of time building things. Leo is crazy. Leo does not hack to break any system’s security. Leo hacks to help.

Leo has a real hacker acumen.

Be like Leo!

The Present of Humiliating Words – A Zen Story

There once lived a passionate painter. His name was Leo. Leo had been painting for 30 years and he was well respected for his unique creations and perspectives.

utpal "uv" vaishnav

Picture Courtesy: Parish Joshi

Leo’s reputation extended far and wide throughout the land and many students gathered to study under him.

“It is your point of view that makes you unique, not just the physical piece of art that you create,” Leo used to say to his students.

One day a young artist namely Lisa arrived in the city.

Lisa was an ordinary artist but she was on her way to conquering the world of art through techniques and so-called smartness (read: manipulative actions).

She would visit different cities, invite the most popular artist of the city to participate in a competition and would defeat the artist.

She wanted to prove that she is the smartest artist in the country.

Manipulation or smartness, fueled with good intent and married with right actions, can be a blessing. But when used wickedly, it is the beginning of an actor’s misery.

Lisa’s art…her paintings; were okay at their best but she used to trick her opponents by effectively using humiliating words and playing with the emotions of the artists. As soon as the competition begins, she’d use humiliating words by criticizing the artist’s style and habits and made the artist feel down and embarrassed.

Artists are sensitive beings so when they hear such disgracing words in front of public, they feel upset and their emotional disturbance would be reflected in the piece of art they create at that time.

Since the artist would not able to concentrate, Lisa’s ordinary art would stand out as a better one in the comparison.

Lisa had traveled to over 50 cities and won all the competitions using humiliation as a chief tool!

Enter Leo

Much against the advice of his concerned students, Leo gladly accepted the challenge.

As the competition began, Lisa started insulting Leo with her humiliation technique.

For hours, she verbally assaulted Leo with every curse and insult known to mankind. Leo merely stood there motionless and calm. Leo knew that Calmness is the cradle of power.

“Calmness is the cradle of power.” ~ Josiah Gillbert Holland

Finally, Lisa felt exhausted. Calmly, Leo started painting and invited Lisa also to do the same. As Leo started painting, he forgot that there was anyone other than him and his creation in that moment.

Lisa also started drawing but she could not concentrate. After looking at the art she created within first 10 minutes, she felt ashamed and left.

The students gathered around Leo and questioned him, “How could you endure such an indignity? How could you stay calm when she was using so many humiliating words about your capabilities?”

“If someone gives you a present and you do not accept it,” Leo said, “to whom does the present belong?”

Why North is Not the Best Direction for Sleeping in India

“Never keep your head facing North,” they typically say in India. “It’s a ritual. Vaastu does not permit it.”

I’ve always wondered why is it so. Is there a logical reason for not doing that? I understand Vaastu is a subject of life energy – and energy has to have some roots in science. Maybe our consciousness has not understood it yet.

In the quest of finding out the truth, I came across this video from Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev:

“If you place your head to the north and stay that way for 5 to 6 hours, the magnetic pull will cause pressure on your brain.”  ~ Sadhguru

So if you are in Australia, South may not be the best direction for sleeping and if you’re in India, North is not. Important here is not to follow a ritual blindly but go to the roots of its WHY and then make an informed decision.

Here is a resourceful post on Sleeping Positions: Why North Is Not The Best Direction from Isha Foundation.

My takeaway: Rituals are fine but when you understand the scientific reasons behind them, you might want to follow it not because it is a ritual but because you think that’s the right thing to do.