Thursday, June 30, 2016


A small talk to the young employees of my office on my journey  towards writing my first book 'The Journey of Survivors'. The aim was to emphasise on 'deliberate practice' to achieve what you want.

Only after I listened to this recording that I realised that I have a funny accent.

Good Morning young people!

And when I say young that includes our CEO. Mayank looks young, doesn’t he?

You must be wondering what I am doing here.
Well…I am also wondering about the same thing more than you.

Devika requested me to speak about my own experiences and how with the help of deliberate practice I managed to end up writing a 476 page book.
She hoped that I would be able to inspire you young professionals.
When I heard that I was like … Really? Me? Inspiring people?
I would end up in the stage revealing my close guarded secret - that I am an idiot.
Now, none of you are telling that to anybody. Right?

Then I realized …. nobody can actually inspire anybody.
Virat Kolhi might consider Sachin as his inspiration….but which young cricketer doesn’t? Not everybody ends up becoming Kolhi.
At the end of the day, it is you who have to inspire yourself. Have faith in yourself, stretch yourself, get out of the comfort zone.
That’s what I did when Devika called me. I felt uncomfortable speaking infront of so many people. I have never done that. I felt so uncomfortable that I said that I am going to do it.

So, let us get back to my book.
A year back when I told my parents that I was going to publish a book they became very excited.
They asked me, ‘What are you writing on?’
I said, ‘History.'
They looked at me, surprised, as said, ‘Have you started taking drugs?’

I don’t blame them. When I was in school I used to run away from history. Before the history exam my brother used to read the history book to me.
I just used to listen to him and give the exam. That’s how afraid I was of history.
Forget history, I was afraid of reading in general. My brother used to give me books to read. I used to turn over the cover and keep it back in the shelf.
That changed when I was in class 10. My brother gave me a book called Illusions by Richard Bach. I don’t know why, but it started liking it. One thing helped – the book was thin. After that I slowly started getting addicted to reading.

Reading is like drinking whiskey. The first time you take the sip you are like ‘yak. You don’t like it. The second time, you feel OK. Soon, after few free drinks, you end up buying your own bottle. It usually ends up with you buying a bar cabinet. For books it is not bar cabinet but book shelf.

So I got addicted to reading. Why?

As we grow we learn from our family, our school, our close people. What we do is we start building walls. We build walls of good-bad, do-don’t, right-wrongs. They create walls of prejudice.
The more walls we build, the more our vision gets narrowed. We look at the world through our narrow prism of prejudice. What book does is help you break those walls. The addiction that I had was not really to reading.
The actual addiction was of breaking those walls of prejudice.

Why am I telling you about this? Because this phase of my life is important; without it I would have never been able to write a book.
How did I end up writing about history?
I was excited about the colour, the diversity and the chaos of India. I was curious to know how we came to be what we are. So I started reading. But unfortunately I was born with a very small floppy-like memory disc.
I forget things very easily.
So instead of just studying I started writing the important points. I realized that writing actually helped me understand things better. I was reading things from different places, I was traveling (I travel a lot), and I was getting a lot of information. When I wrote things down, summed it up, it helped me understand the past in a much better way. I could co-relate things better.

The next step was writing blogs. It was a challenge. I am not very good with grammars. Blogging also meant that I was exposing my ideas to public scrutiny, at the risk of exposing my close guarded secret. The was uncomfortable. It was so uncomfortable that I said I must do it. I started writing blogs. When I wrote enough posts I began to think of a book. Book was a bigger challenge. Writing a book without being an expert on it? That was uncomfortable. I enjoy that stretch. I said to myself, ‘Why not?’ And I ended up writing this book.

At the end there are two things: stretch yourself, and get out of the comfort zone. Those are the two things I deliberately practice doing. Now, this is not a success story because my book is not a best seller…yet. But it is a personal success for me. I gave myself a stretch goal and I achieved it. And more than success, it is a personal satisfaction.

Those are the two things I did deliberately, over and over again. Whenever someone asks me or my boss tells me to do something I am not an expert in, that I feel I might not be able to do, I say I will do it.
If there is one thing you take out of this talk, that one thing is: GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE.  It may sound contradictory, but, be comfortable outside your comfort zone.

What I also believe is that there is no one path to success. We all are different and our ancestors understood it. They wrote down paths to achieve salvation. I equate that to success. For the people who are emotional, people of heart, there is Bhakti yoga. With complete devotion to something you believe in you can achieve success. An example would be – Sachin Tendulkar. He devoted his entire life to cricket and he is successful. For people of mind the path proposed was Raj Yoga, or Gyan Yoga. It is about achieving success through sheer knowledge and thinking. Einstein is an example. There is Karma yoga for those in-between heart and mind. They achieve success by following their duties sincerely and honestly. Rahul Dravid is an example. He was not a born talent. He practiced hard and sincerely , but did not devote his entire life to cricket like Sachin Tendulkar. He too achieved success. And finally, Tantra yoga for the eccentric people. These are crazy and creative people, like Michael Jackson. They can do stupid things but still achieve success.

So different people are different and there is no single path to achieve success. But one thing is common in all those who become successful: They stretch themselves and get out of the comfort zone.

Remember, not everybody become successful, but a successful person can come from anybody. It does not matter where you are today. If you stretch yourself you will become successful.

Thank You.

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