Take the First Step

Have you ever observed a child learning to walk?

Fascinating feeling that is. It often takes months before the child starts walking. It fails every day. But a good thing about children is this: they don’t know what failure means!

First Step

Because they don’t know if not being able to walk for some time is the failure, they keep trying. And trying. And trying once more.

Until one has succeeded, all the events, which many people recognize as a failure, are just the other names of ‘knowledge assets’ that we are gathering on our path to success.

There’s a fantastic Japanese proverb:

Fall Seven Times, Stand Up Eight.

(Meaning: When life knocks you down, stand back up; What matters is not the bad that happened, but what one does after.)

Many of us would have heard it but often we tend to ignore to practice the things of an utmost value. Like the above.

When a child figures out that walking is his life work, he immerses itself into the walking. And it gives his 100 percent.

Today, just today, why can’t we learn from children’s default behavior, and learn to take the first step.

Taking the first step fearlessly is the first step to experiencing the life more intensely … and the first step to advance the consciousness of our soul.

Deer Gets the Wings – a Photo Story

Photo Story : Flying Deer

Deer @ the Gir Forest

The Talk Between the Deer and the Forest

“What’re you wondering?” the Forest asked the Deer.

“I’m going to leave,” said the Deer.

“I’m the forest and I know that I’m amongst the best forests out here, and I guess you have no problems living here. You get food and shelter and you have a good rapport with even the violent animals so they don’t eat you,” The forest said with hope.

“Well,” said the Deer, “That’s not the point. I feel I should go to a bigger forest and experience life more intensely because I am going to discover my destiny.”

“Deer don’t travel from forests to forests, they care about their food and keeping themselves safe from the wild animals of the forest,” said the Forest.

“Just because I’m Deer, I should act like all other Deer? I don’t think so. I made friends with some of the wildest animals, which none of the other animals have done in this forest. Sure, I’m a little Deer but I have dreams and I want to realize them,” replied the Deer.

“But, everyone here will miss you. You’re the cutest amongst all the animals and all of us really like you,” the Forest said emotionally.

“Hey my dear Forest, I have nothing sort of dislike about you and other animals living here.  But I think we are free to go where we wish and to realize what we are. I just want to discover who I really am and there’s only one way to do that: Travel to different forests and get more experiences. And, this is the first step towards it.”

“Your wordings remind me of Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull book,” said the forest.

“You’re right! Do you know, some time back, I met with a Seagull, who told me the story of Jonathan Livingston Seagull and how he reached the heights which were once unimaginable.”

“The story was inspiring and it incepted a wish inside me. A wish to discover who I really am. And you know, I also learned from Richard Bach that you are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true.”

“Okay, and…?” wondered the forest.

The Talk Between the Deer and Leo, the Lion King

“Well, as you know I’m friends with even the king of the forest, Leo. I went to him and shared my wish.”

And guess what, Leo told me this, “Most Deer do not have any ambition to go to the bigger forests but you are different since you were a toddler. Remember when we first met, you were not afraid of me; you did not run away but saw straight in my eyes and said ‘Hey Leo’. And I could see the strength of your soul in your eyes and we became friends,” said the king.

Then I asked, “But do you think I’ll be able to survive in the new forest? Am I not too young and inexperienced?”

“Since you saw the dream, you’ll figure out all different ways to realize it,” said the King, “You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way.”

“But Leo, I’m going to miss you, I really ..,” I said. “Please don’t ask me anything more.”

“I will always be with you. Whenever you need me, just let me know and I’ll appear in one form or the other,” said the King hiding his wet eyes.

But let me tell you this: “This is your road; and yours alone. I may walk it with you but I won’t walk it for you. Go, discover your true self. Fly with the new wings.”

“Fly with the new wings?” I asked. “Isn’t it unreasonable for a Deer like me to get wings?”

“It sure is, but being unreasonable is the only way through which one can discover her destiny. The world is full of reasonable people who have valid reasons about why you should only do reasonable things. But to discover your destiny, you’ll need to be unreasonable.”

“And you know, being unreasonable is the most beautiful thing one can ever experience. It is 100% reasonable for a Lion to eat a Deer but you know, I will never eat you. Now, spending time with you gives me the internal joy that I had never experienced as a Lion in my whole life thus far. That’s so beautiful that I don’t have words to describe it.”

“So you will also learn to fly with the new wings. As a Deer, you may not get the literal wings but an awareness that only you’d get. Just choose to be aware of everything around you, experience things intensely, understand things deeply but make progress one step at a time.”

The Deer Starts Discovering Her Destiny

“And my heart was filled with confidence,” said the Deer. “And here I’m all set to leave.”

“Ok, now I understand your point of view. Go Deer Go and discover your destiny,” said the Forest, “But you have to make me a promise to come back and share your success story when you have discovered your destiny.”

“Well, I’ll come back one day to tell my story but please take care of my dear Leo who is really going to miss me when I’m gone.”

“And you take care of yourself, little Deer because I know you’re also going to miss all of us and your dear friend, our King.”

“I’m going to keep in touch with Leo even when I’m gone from this forest because there is no ‘because’ … that’s the first unreasonable act I’m going to do in order to discover my destiny,” the Deer thought to herself.

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


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.


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!